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Australian campuses are expanding, with more students at our universities in 2018 than ever before. This growth poses a challenge for many institutions, with current infrastructure being pushed to accommodate more students. While this growth is likely to involve further planning and development in the future, some outdoor refurbishment can quickly revitalise crowded campuses. In fact, research shows that spending time outside is a fantastic learning tool, helping students improve short-term memory, enhance their mental energy and strengthen their concentration. The right furniture can transform empty outdoor spaces into vibrant meeting and study places, creating a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for students and staff alike. Here are some important factors to consider when furnishing outdoor spaces across campus:
Learning outside is the perfect complement to structured lectures and tutorials. It gives students more flexibility, while providing a fresh, open air alternative to a cramped library or study hall. When furnishing outdoor learning spaces, layout is key – the type of furniture you place in each area will have unique implications, determining the kind interactions that take place in that space. For example; Felton’s ‘Snack ‘N’ Study’ park settings are great at encouraging group learning, discussion and social interaction, but may be noisy when students wish to study on their own. On the other hand, separate table and chair settings reduce the flow of communication, offering an ideal space for individual learning. It’s essential to furnish each outside study space to fulfil its unique purpose, striking balance between interaction and privacy. When study spaces are in harmony, students learn better and enjoy their time more, so be sure to plan areas to accommodate a wide range of needs and preferences.
Wellbeing and comfort
Having the equipment in place for students to learn outside is one thing, but this space must also be extremely functional, otherwise it will not be used to its maximum potential. Adequate UV protection is essential in the harsh Australian climate and merely providing cover from the sun is not enough. Indirect sunrays can still harm you, even when you’re in the shade. This makes it important to select highly protective shade materials, while minimising reflective radiation sources like light-coloured paints and metals. While it can be tempting to box in outdoor spaces in order to offer maximum shade and temperature control, it’s also important to keep comfort and ambiance at front of mind. You still want students to feel like they’re outside, so be sure to keep trees and grass visible. After all, there’s no point in being outside if students still feel like they’re inside.
Outdoor furniture is constantly exposed to the elements, so you’ll need high-quality materials able to withstand the tests of time. Remember, while a quality material will likely have a higher outright cost, it will probably save you money in the long term. Materials deteriorate at different rates and have different ongoing repair costs. For example, timber is prone to splintering and metal exposure over time, while aluminium steel is far more robust and durable. Additionally, some materials use more resources to clean and maintain than others. For example, uneven wooden benchtops are far harder to clean than products like Felton’s Laminex tabletops. Waste management is another important consideration for ensuring students have a clean and hygienic workspace. Investing in high-quality, bolted down bin surrounds is a practical way to keep rubbish contained in study areas. Remember: clear study spaces create clear minds, so be sure to opt for the most low-maintenance, easy to clean furniture solution.
Our nation is blessed with a great year-round climate, making the outdoors an ideal space to expand learning opportunities on campus. As a wholly Australian owned and operated business, nobody understands the requirements of Australian universities like Felton Industries. We’re committed to providing the highest quality of outdoor solutions, ensuring campuses across Australia have the most comfortable, safe and aesthetically pleasing outdoor experience possible. For more information about outdoor furniture tailored to your unique needs, get in touch with our friendly team today.