The University of Portsmouth’s new Future Technology Centre appropriately sits between the Business School and the Faculty of Technology. Designed by Stride Treglown, it is also an exemplar of sustainable construction.
The Centre is an extension to the existing Portland Building with four floors providing an integrated, but separable, suite of facilities from the 3D printing machines for plastic and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) for metal, along with the 3D x-ray analytical microscopes in the Zeiss Global Centre, to the top floor where business partners and entrepreneurs and the university academic staff come together to discuss problems and opportunities of the future, with two floors of Technology Enhanced Learning in between.
The activities of the floor floors are seen as working together: a business partner presents a technical problem to the University, it is developed by students on the middle two floors then prototyped and tested on the ground floor. They can also work separately and the Technology Enhanced Learning floors are used by departments from across the university, with some accidental benefits, for example they have replaced the traditional poster-presentations in the School of Nursing, thus saving paper and printing and enabling the students to be more adventurous by adding animations and other digital materials.
The two floors of Technology Enhanced Learning spaces can be used separately or together, or further subdivided by movable partitions, with the ability to connect presentations and microphones across the floors. The traditional pedestal desk for the lecturer has gone – he or she can walk freely around the tables sending presentations from his mobile phone or tablet, with just one small panel to control the connectivity between the ten different tables on each floor and the lecturer.
The new spaces are, of course not for everyone, as they require pedagogical change, but they show one of the options for the future and for connections with business, while the building itself, with its BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating has become a research study in the University.