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Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments الاستدامة الاجتماعية والثقافية للبيئات التعليمية المستقبلية
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Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments الاستدامة الاجتماعية والثقافية للبيئات التعليمية المستقبلية

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Open House International, ISSN: 01682601, Volume 34, Number 1. pp: 68-74, 2009 ...

Open House International, ISSN: 01682601, Volume 34, Number 1. pp: 68-74, 2009
This paper investigates factors influencing the shaping of future learning environments. It focuses on the impact of social and cultural requirements on the sustainability of future learning environment. It argues that while today's learning environments are shaped by yesterday's visions, future learning environments are shaped by toady's' visions that might not be acceptable nor valid for future generations. The case of New Kuwait University City in Shedadiyah is used to illustrate how current social and cultural requirements impact the design of a future university campus and inhibit the production of a sustainable environment. Among several socio-cultural factors, the paper focuses on two significant aspects that have dramatically affected the development of the master plan for the New University City; namely separation of students' sexes and car parking requirements. The first requirement was mandated by a parliament decree to build two separate campuses; one for male students and the other for female students. The implementation of this requirement resulted in the duplication of many educational facilities and immensely increased space and budget requirements. The second requirement reflected dependency on automobiles as primary means of transportation in Kuwait. It resulted in a necessity to allocate large areas of land for vehicular traffic and car parking. These two requirements, as well as other socio-cultural requirements, created a great challenge towards achieving the required level of sustainability. The paper concludes that while recognizing that accommodating clients' social and cultural requirements is necessary for the application of a comprehensive sustainability strategy, these requirements might work against achieving required levels of other aspects of sustainability.

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Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments الاستدامة الاجتماعية والثقافية للبيئات التعليمية المستقبلية Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments الاستدامة الاجتماعية والثقافية للبيئات التعليمية المستقبلية Document Transcript

  • SOCIO-CULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY OF FUTURE C LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: The Case of the New Kuwait University Campus Yasser Mahgoub Abstract This paper investigates factors influencing the shaping of future learning environments. It focuses on the impact of social and cultural requirements on the sustainability of future learning environment. It argues that while today's learn- ing environments are shaped by yesterday's visions, future learning environments are shaped by toady's' visions that might not be acceptable nor valid for future generations. The case of New Kuwait University City in Shedadiyah is used to illustrate how current social and cultural requirements impact the design of a future university campus and inhibit open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... the production of a sustainable environment. Among several socio-cultural factors, the paper focuses on two signifi- cant aspects that have dramatically affected the development of the master plan for the New University City; namely separation of students' sexes and car parking requirements. The first requirement was mandated by a parliament decree to build two separate campuses; one for male students and the other for female students. The implementation of this requirement resulted in the duplication of many educational facilities and immensely increased space and bud- get requirements. The second requirement reflected dependency on automobiles as primary means of transportation in Kuwait. It resulted in a necessity to allocate large areas of land for vehicular traffic and car parking. These two requirements, as well as other socio-cultural requirements, created a great challenge towards achieving the required level of sustainability. The paper concludes that while recognizing that accommodating clients' social and cultural requirements is necessary for the application of a comprehensive sustainability strategy, these requirements might work against achieving required levels of other aspects of sustainability. K e y w o r d s : Sustainability, Socio-Cultural Factors, Campus, Master Planning, Kuwait. INTRODUCTION Murning (2006) traced the development of university campuses in the West and concluded Architects and planners are continuously faced by that, "we are now in what has been described as the the challenge of how to accommodate their clients' fourth phase in the evolution of buildings for tertiary social and cultural needs while adhering to other education." For Murning, the earliest was the incep- aspects of sustainability. A comprehensive sustain- tion of universities, where communities of scholars ability strategy calls for the recognitions of the three integrated into the urban fabric in centers, the sec- aspects of sustainability; economic, environmental, ond was redbrick universities of the nineteenth cen- and socio-cultural needs of the users. This paper tury and the third was the post-war creation of cam- argues that satisfying clients' socio-cultural require- pus environments. Now is the era of expanded ments might act against achieving the sustainability access to education, lifelong learning and peda- goal. It analyses the impact of social and cultural gogical changes from a teaching-based culture to requirements on the development of the master a student centered learning environment for student plan for the New Kuwait University campus in 'consumers' who take a far more pro-active role in Shedadiyah in terms of its sustainability, in order to shaping their education than earlier generations. illustrate how current social and cultural require- The phenomenon of constructing new uni- ments impact the design of a future learning envi- versity campuses stemmed from the need to edu- ronment and inhibit the production of a sustainable cate new generation of university graduates to serve environment. The paper's second goal is to illustrate the society. According to Halsband (2005), "the how future learning environments are shaped by best university campuses are places that have been toady's' social and cultural visions that might not be carefully designed over decades, even centuries." acceptable nor valid for future generations. Richard Brodhead (2004) has defined the universi- 68
  • ty as home: "a defensive structure," and a "world of requirements to be incorporated in the design. Yasser Mahgoub belongingness thrown up against a larger world of exposure and strangeness." The university campus Typically, clients express their requirements depend- is a place where teaching, learning, and interaction ing on their current visions and values that are take place. shaped by society and culture. Clients are also Several developing countries are construct- increasingly requiring sustainability to be one of ing university campuses to accommodate the grow- their projects' most important objectives. Planners, ing need for university education of their popula- architects and designers are required to achieve tion. Several Gulf countries, including Saudi sustainability through their planning and design Arabia, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates have practices. Yet, as Guy and Moore (2007) put it, "the established governmental universities during the diversity of images of what sustainable architecture 60s and 70s of the 20th century. Many of these uni- might be-that is, what it might look like, where it versities were built on sites previously occupied by might be located, what technologies it might incor- high schools, while others were constructed on porate, what materials it might be constructed from, entirely new sites as complete university campuses. and so on-is quite bewildering, and rather than For example Kuwait and United Arab Emirates uni- diminishing over time appears to be accelerating." versities utilized existing high schools buildings, They argue that, "the challenge of sustainability is open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... while King Abdul Aziz and Um Al Qura universities more a matter of local interpretation than of the set- started in newly designed and constructed campus- ting of objective or universal goals." es. The impact of learning environments on the One of the newest university campus projects individual has been studied from several points of in the Gulf region is the Education City of Qatar, an view; behavioral, psychological and physiological initiative of The Qatar Foundation for Education, aspects. Strange and Banning (2001) asserted that Science and Community Development. The "although features of the physical environment lend Education City of Qatar is located on the outskirts themselves theoretically to all possibilities, the lay- of Doha, the capital of Qatar, Education City cov- out, location, and arrangement of space and facil- ers 2,500 acres and houses educational facilities ities render some behaviors much more likely, and from school age to research level and branch cam- thus more probable, than others." Chism (2006) puses of some of the world's leading universities. As argues that "because we habitually take space described by Salama (2008): arrangements for granted, we often fail to notice From its inception, the mission of the Qatar the ways in which space constrains or enhances Foundation has been to provide educational what we intend to accomplish." opportunities and to improve quality of life for the people of Qatar and the region. This was reflected in developing a higher education campus- an edu- CASE STUDY: NEW KUWAIT cation city - adopting the branch campus concept; UNIVERSITY CITY AT SHEDADIYAH world class universities bringing their best-regarded programs to Qatar as fully fledged partners with This paper utilizes the case of the New Kuwait Qatar Foundation. This is unique in the history of University City at Shedadiyah to illustrate how education and believed to be the first such example socio-cultural requirements impact the formation of in the world. (Salama, 2008:77) future learning environments. Kuwait University is a The definition of sustainability presented by public university supported by the State of Kuwait. It The Bruntland Report (Bruntland, 1987); "develop- was established in October 1966, five years after ment that meets the needs of the present without Kuwait became an independent stat. Since its compromising the ability of future generations to inception, Kuwait University has expanded from a meet their own needs", is accepted world wide. It small institution comprised of Colleges of Science, illustrates the human consciousness of the historical Arts and Education, and a Women's College with moment and conditional existence of our genera- 480 students and 31 faculty members, to a diversi- tion. However, it pauses a paradox by warning fied institution with 7 campuses and more than against dictating future generations environments 20,000 students and 1,200 faculty members. by current generations' actions. While architects These campuses were not designed as university struggle to achieve environmental sustainability, campuses but rather are converted high school they depend on their clients to express their special buildings. 69
  • Yasser Mahgoub open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... Figure 1. New Kuwait University Campus Location at Shedadiyah Area. a University City composed of 2 separate university In 2003 Kuwait University acquired a 3.5 campuses; one for males and the other for females. square kilometers of land south of Kuwait city. On To accommodate the clients' requirements, the 25th of October 2003 the Kuwait University's the campus master plan was conceived as a city on Higher Committee decided to proceed immediate- the banks of a river of landscape. (Figure 2) Two ly with the development of New University City at campuses, one for men and the other for women, Shadadiyah. On the 20th of April 2004 the were separated by a wide oasis - a "Palm Forest" National Assembly approved the establishment of over one kilometer in length. As described by the the New University City and the subsequent transfer Master Plan document prepared by CCA (2006): of all facilities from the current campuses to the "the campus master plan has a linear organization New Educational City within 10 years. An addition- with key functions located at its centre or core. The al area of 1.5 square kilometers was added to ends of the Main Campus are anchored on one accommodate a new medical campus. (Figure 1) side by the Medical Campus and by the outdoor The total enrollment in the new campus was expect- sports facilities on the other." The plan is comprised ed to reach approximately 30,000 full time students of two linked but separated campuses, one for men by the year 2025. In addition to Kuwait University's and one for women. The Main and Medical vision of consolidating all of its educational facilities Campuses are brought as close as possible to in one area, an important requirement for the new encourage communication between them. The facility was the implementation of law number main student social, fitness, recreational, dining (30/2004) regarding the New University city and and retail facilities crucial to student life are cen- the implementation of the Kuwait Government's tered in the campus. They form the heart of the mandated Separation of Student Sexes (SOSS) pol- campus, associated with primary entry courts and icy. The mandate was to complete the implementa- meeting spaces on both the Men's and Women's tion of the Master Plan over a 10 year period, with sides. Each campus is organized along a "Galleria"- all facilities in place to accommodate students, fac- a grand scale outdoor weather-protected street, ulty and staff. It also called for the establishment of urban in character and animated by student activi- 70
  • Yasser Mahgoub open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... Figure 2. New Kuwait University Campus Master Plan. ties that link all major functions of each campus. more naturalistic setting. (Figure 3) Different kinds The Galleria will give an identity to each campus of landscape elements have also been developed creating a sense of place that will be memorable to do the work of defining streets, creating open for all its students. Within the University City, college spaces and public pathways, enhancing pedestrian clusters will form neighborhoods bringing scale and ways and recycling and re-using resources. identity to each part of the University. Emphasis has been placed on the use of shaded The New University City will have 3 affiliated sidewalks, courtyards, canopies, arbors and other campuses, including one for female students, one microclimate modifying spaces to increase the for male students, and the medical campus. The comfort of being outdoors and walking from park- college administration and academic department ing to building, especially in the hot months. offices will be situated on the campus where the Development of appropriate dry climate approach- higher population of students for that college is. es to landscaping has driven all landscaping Additional faculty offices will be provided on the aspects of the Master Plan. The extensive perimeter counterpart campus for each college (approxi- of the site is naturalized as a continuous cover of mately 30 %). The medical campus will house four indigenous vegetation and swelled landforms to medical colleges, and a 600 bed University capture seasonal rains. Hospital. The landscape work includes development of the open space system in terms of sustainability, IMPACT OF CLIENT'S REQUIREMENTS microclimate design, planting technology and the establishment of naturalized areas around the site. The client, Kuwait University represented by its Vice Significant focus has been placed on the develop- President for Planning Office (VPPO), conveyed the ment of the design of the "Oasis". The design is requirements of the University to the consultant. greatly enhanced with the introduction of a water Many organizational, educational, technical, traffic, course that extends across the length of the oasis socio-cultural, environmental and site requirements and enhanced with the palm trees grouped in clus- were conveyed to the consultant. They included the ters and is heavily landscaped berms creating a design of the new campus to host 30,000 students 71
  • Yasser Mahgoub open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... Figure 3. Image of Campus Main Entrance. expandable to 40,000 students and the planning Bulletin of Committee to Defend Women's Rights in for the addition of 3 new colleges in the future. the Middle East (2002), "the cost of segregating Environmental requirements included consideration classes is estimated at more than $180 million." of harsh environmental conditions in Kuwait during The application of the separation of students' sexes the summer season and the requirement to provide since 1996 reflects the Islamic conservatism move- mechanically air conditioned spaces for all func- ments currently taking place. Since its indepen- tions. Technical requirements included the provision dence in 1961, Kuwait was considered one of the of all campus services through an underground ser- most liberal countries in the Gulf region, but since vices tunnel in order to avoid interruption of edu- its liberation in 1991 the conservatism Islamic cational activities. Socio-cultural requirements, movement is on the rise - and the segregation law considered of high priority, included provision of is just one its consequences. spaces for students' social activities, religious facili- ties, extracurricular activities, etc. The two main Separation of Students Sexes requirements the client requested to be carefully The requirement to separate students' sexes was met in the new Master Plan were: the separation of achieved by providing duplicated college facilities students' sexes and the provision of ample car park- separated by a green oasis. (Figure 4) This strategy ing for the university population. Another important resulted in a dramatic increase in the required requirement was to provide an architectural image areas for teaching facilities and staff offices. 30% that reflects Muslim and Kuwaiti identity. extra staff offices were allocated in the men's cam- The separation of students' sexes was a pus to facilitate temporary accommodation of staff mandatory requirement that should be met, as stat- members during office hours. Undergraduate ed by the parliament decree for the establishment teaching laboratories and instructional facilities had of the New University City. Prior to the parliament to be duplicated to facilitate easy access for both decree #24/1996, Kuwait University did not have sexes. Non-duplicated facilities, that include expen- to apply separation of students' sexes. Since 1996, sive and research laboratories, created a design Kuwait University is applying separation of students' problem for college designers. The designers of sexes on classes and time schedule level. The 1996 new College of Engineering and Petroleum pro- law required banning the mixing of the sexes in posed the elimination of the central oasis to place classes, libraries, cafeterias, labs and extracurricu- the non-duplicating facilities, a major departure lar activities at Kuwait University. According to the from the original master plan of the campus. The 72
  • Yasser Mahgoub Figure 2. New Kuwait University Campus Master Plan. non-duplicated facilities were finally placed in the The magnitude of these conflicts can be reduced by open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... basement underneath the college. implementing strategies that reduce the use of vehi- cles for accessing the campus. Automobile Dependency As little can be done to influence the wider Currently, neighborhoods hosting university cam- climate in Kuwait, the University must focus on puses are suffering from the amount of automobile instilling a more positive attitude towards public traffic and car parking congestions created by uni- transport, and discourage unaccompanied car versity students. Over 90% of the student and travel. This may be achieved through a combina- teaching population currently travel to the University tion of public transport infrastructure improvements, by private car, mostly unaccompanied by others, technological innovation and financial incentives. with the remaining 10% equally split between pas- The success of achieving sustainability objectives senger and being chauffeured. Traffic of this scale throughout the University will be dependant, in part, produces traffic congestions, air pollution, noise upon, the cultivation of leaders to champion cam- and disturbance levels. This trend is likely to contin- pus environmental responsibility, as well as the allo- ue unless the University can offer real incentives for cation of resources necessary for its implementa- students and staff alike to utilize more sustainable tion. Without supportive leadership, campus sus- modes of transport. tainability efforts are likely to have difficulty in Traffic studies suggested that the new attracting the resources and compliance they need University could generate over 13,000 journeys in to achieve the desired sustainability objectives. The the network in the afternoon peak hour, leading to University can play a major role in changing the high traffic levels and potential congestion at key car-based culture that currently dominates Kuwait. road junctions on the 6th and 7th Ring Roads. An By initiating a shift towards sustainable transport internal ring road was designed inside the campus modes the University may enhance its image as a to accommodate the expected heavy traffic around leader in environmental sustainability practice and the colleges. The Master Plan provided 33,423 car innovative design. parking spaces to accommodate students, faculty members and staff parking requirements that cov- ers an area of approximately 1/3 of the total area CONCLUSIONS of the site. (Figure 2) Kuwait University faces a considerable chal- This paper discussed how clients' socio-cultural lenge with regard to the use of sustainable transport requirements affect achieving sustainable future modes. The predicted volumes of traffic may also learning environments. Kuwait University New impact significantly upon global environmental University City in Shedadiyah was used as a case issues such as climate change. Parking and traffic study to illustrate of how specific socio-cultural impacts off the campus are recognized within the requirements influence the formation of a future university as being the most widespread source of learning environment. In the case of Kuwait conflict between the university and local residents. University new campus in Sheadadiyah, two main 73
  • requirements conflicted with the requirement to and Rethinking Learning Spaces, in Oblinger, D. (ed.) Yasser Mahgoub achieve sustainability in the built environment, 2006, Learning Spaces. EDUCAUSE. Available at: www.educause.edu/learningspaces. namely the separation of students' sexes and auto- mobile parking requirements. GUY, S. AND MOORE S., 2007, Sustainable Architecture The separation of students' sexes was and the Pluralist Imagination. Journal of Architectural achieved by creating two separate campuses one Education, Vol. (60), No. (4), PP 15–23. . for male students and the other for female students. HALSBAND, F. 2005, Campuses in Place. Places, Spring Many educational facilities and services were dupli- 2005, Vol. (17), No. (1). cated that required an estimated increase of 30% of the project cost, working against achieving eco- MURNING, I. 2006, Spaces for Learning: A Review of nomic sustainability. The provision of more than Learning Spaces in Further and Higher Education. A Report 32,000 car parking space for students, faculty for the Scottish Funding Council, prepared by AMA Alexi Marmot Associates in Association with HAA Design. members and staff mandated the occupation of more than 1/3 of the site by parking areas, work- SALAMA, A. M. 2008, Innovation Meeting Aspiration: ing against achieving environmental sustainability. Isozaki and Legoretta in the Midst of the Education City The master plan attempted to solve this problem by Campus, Qatar. MAGAZ, May 2008, Issue (101), PP 76- . providing an environment within the campus that 83. open house international Vol 34, No.1, March 2009 Socio-Cultural Sustainability of Future Learning Environments... encourages walking by providing shaded and STRANGE, C. AND BANNING, J. 2001, Educating by pleasant walkways between colleges. Design: Creating Campus Learning Environments That Dependency on car and the segregation of Work. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco CA. students' sexes affected the need for space and spa- tial distribution of campus facilities. The Master Planner attempted to create a place that focuses on the student as the centre for learning; these social and cultural requirements affected negatively the creation of a sustainable environment in terms of economic and environmental sustainability. The paper concludes that while recognizing that clients' social and cultural requirements are essential for the application of a comprehensive sustainability strategy, they might work against achieving other aspects of sustainability; namely economic and environmental aspects. REFERENCES BRODHEAD, R. 2004, The Good of This Place: Values and Challenges in College Education, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. BRUNDTLAND, H. 1987, Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report). For the World Commission on Environment and Development, Oxford University Press, New York. BULLETIN OF COMMITTEE TO DEFEND WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 2002, Women in the Middle East. Editor: Azam kamguian, Assistant Editor: Mona Basaruddin, No. (5), September 2002. Author’s Address: Yasser Mahgoub CANADIAN CONSORTIUM ARCHITECTS, 2006, Master Department of Architecture, Plan for the New University City for Kuwait University, Al- Kuwait University, Shadadiyah. Kuwait University, Kuwait. Kuwait ymahgoub@kuc01.kuniv.edu.kw CHISM, N. 2006, Challenging Traditional Assumptions 74