26 April 2019. The HSG MakerSpace, creatively designed group rooms, the new online learning platform Canvas and the Coworking Space of the Student Union (SHSG): within just a few years, numerous projects have changed the image of the University of St.Gallen. Innovative forms of teaching and learning, as well as new physical and virtual interaction platforms are beating a path to the Rosenberg and the City. The next project is already being lined up: the HSG Learning Center. The new place of teaching and learning is being fully funded by donations.
Specifically supporting didactic principles
Open Grid – Open Mind: this is the maxim of the planned HSG Learning Center. This openness is intended to be lived both from inside and from outside. The Center’s interior design provides both transparency and flexibility. This is made possible by glass walls and various partition elements, among other things. The building is also meant to be an open presence towards the neighbourhood. Its sloping structure aligns itself with the Rosenberg. Additionally, the terraces of the building make it possible for teaching and learning to be moved outdoors. Conversely, the "Grid" is to be understood as a marketplace or as a place of mutual exchange. The arrangement of terraced cubes in a grid is the work of the architect Sou Fujimoto. His visionary construction is not merely intended to look beautiful but to specifically support didactic principles.
Architects Sou Fujimoto and Marie de France talk about their project "Open Grid", the new Learning Center at the University of St.Gallen. How does the building fit into its surroundings? What are the project's focal points and which aspects are decisive for a modern learning environment that embraces the digital future?
Education objectives in times of digital transformation
Prof. Dr. Bernadette Dilger, Professor of Business Education, is an expert on the didactic concept of the HSG Learning Center. It is a matter concern to her to foster the specific human education objectives in times of digital transformation. In a video clip on the website of the HSG Foundation, she emphasises particular aspects: "The new learning formats will promote the culture of interaction and joint co-creative work." The HSG Learning Center will make an important contribution to this since with its architectural structure, it will itself realise a didactic principle, namely "scaffolding". This principle describes the support of learning processes through a scaffold that provides orientation. The Center’s particular spatial design is meant to symbolise this supporting aid. However, the new University marketplace will not merely bring people together.
In the digital world, we rely on both human and artificial intelligence. The HSG Learning Center combines these two components.
Professor of Corporate Communication, MCM-HSG
Room for modern technologies
"In the digital world, we rely on both human and artificial intelligence. The HSG Learning Center combines these two components," explains Prof. Dr. Miriam Meckel from the Chair of Corporate Communication at the University of St.Gallen. The new place of teaching and learning will create room for modern technologies and the interlinkage of different data. At the same time, the people who will be working there will play a central part. In contrast to technology, they will not always be rational but can also be unpredictable and ambivalent at times. Only a combination of human reason and machine rationality will enable people to stand their ground in the digital business world.
Student voices were also heard in the project decision-making process. Last year’s SHSG President Luca Serratore was a member of the jury. He underlines that in the digital age, in particular, the HSG Learning Center will be a good initiative for the encouragement of personal exchange at the University. Additionally, the project will have a positive impact on participants’ creativity thanks to future learning methods that are still to be developed. The SHSG’s present Interest Representation Committee and the designated SHSG President Florian Wußmann adds: "With the Learning Center, we are creating the next step towards the fulfilment of our vision to set global standards in teaching. It will be a place of inspiration and exchange for students of yesterday, today and tomorrow."
With the HSG Learning Center, the University of St.Gallen is moving further into the future. The euphoria is great among students and faculty alike. Besides the didactic aspects, the large-scale project will enrich the campus with a new social focus. The new place of teaching and learning is scheduled to be operational as from Spring Semester 2022. At present, the field behind the Library Building is still sporting building markers. Construction is scheduled to start in 2019/2020.
Thomas Tarantini is a second-semester student in the Master’s programme in Business Innovation (MBI) and in the Certificate Course in Business Journalism.
Image: Visualisation of the future HSG Learning Center, © Sou Fujimoto Architects