The University of Newcastle (UON) has released the early concepts for its $95 million CBD landmark education precinct – NeW Space.

Designed by Lyons Architecture and EJE Architecture, the 10 storey ‘vertical’ campus invites the university’s students and community to learn and explore together from the ground up, starting from the social spaces, connecting pathways and active student learning spaces located on the street front.

Standing on the corner of Hunter and Auckland Streets in Newcastle, the facility will be built in time for the 2017 academic year, providing facilities for all UON staff and students through digital library services and information commons, as well as collaborative learning and research spaces.

“NeW Space is designed for the student. The ‘vertical’ design places student and learning spaces throughout the building, and open spaces will enable non-traditional formal and informal learning including game-based and other approaches that enhance the student experience,” says UON Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen.

Harnessing the latest technology and innovation, all learning environments within the precinct are designed to provide flexibility and adaptability to switch between multiple modes within a class, and between classes.

This is expected to take the teaching, learning and research landscape beyond the lecture theatre or office.

“Today’s students not only want but also expect that their learning experiences will be as dynamic and enabled by technology as every other aspect of their world,” remarks Professor McMillen in an opinion piece for The Herald.

“A 2012 Study of Undergraduate Students and IT by the EDUCAUSE Centre for Applied Research in the United States found that two out of three students reported thinking technology elevates the level of teaching."

However, Professor McMillen notes that fostering innovation through an array of teaching modes is just as essential, and that the types of teaching and learning spaces that will accommodate the next generation of learners must first be considered before they are built.

On a greater scale, NeW Space will provide more opportunities for research and engagement with industry, business and the community to drive collaboration and innovation.

The NeW Space project is jointly funded as an initiative of the Australian Government as a project of the Education Investment Fund, the NSW State Government through the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund, and the University of Newcastle.