The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT, www.kit.nl) equips health professionals to address public health challenges around the world. It offers Master programs and advanced courses bringing together people from different countries and regions. KIT’s international courses create a forum for linking and exchanging experiences amongst a broad range of development practitioners.¹
AKKA has been commissioned to design the new educational spaces for KIT, this included planning, relocations, design, renovation and construction of existing spaces as well as conceiving of new additional spaces that were not planned. Because we believe that true learning happens not only in the classrooms but also and mostly out of and around classrooms, it was extremely important for us to design the space holistically and indeed to create new spaces. Spaces such as lounges, in between areas, break out areas, social areas as well as individual spaces to support the students throughout the different dynamics, needs and challenges they go through during their master studies.
At AKKA, we believe that spaces can enhance people’s experiences. Indeed, in an educational environment, space can help people learn better, exchange ideas, collaborate, focus, socialise and relax better. We like to think that “no matter how you feel when you arrive, you will feel better when you’re leaving”, and we design to make this a reality in every space and every corner.
It also goes without saying that the entire design was sustainable, at more than one level. One level of sustainability was implemented by re-using elements and items thus reducing waste. Another level of sustainability was in the choice of the materials, furniture, systems and other items selected. A third aspect of sustainability was embedded in maximising the use of the spaces, by making every space flexible for multiple uses.
In addition, because education systems and students needs are changing fast, we designed every space to be as flexible as possible, so it can adapt to the different needs of different people as quickly as possible. This is also in order to maximise the use of spaces. When not used for classes, classrooms can be used for events, meeting or as co-working spaces.