Rethinking outside the box: repurposing obsolete learning spaces

Adaptive reuse means giving an existing building a new, modern use, different from which was originally designed. One of the most iconic examples of adaptive reuse is the Mussée d’Orsay, a former railroad station and currently a luxury hotel. In the case of higher education, there are many advantages but also challenges that come with the idea of repurposing current learning spaces.

Repurposing current facilities to adapt them to shifting needs allows schools to create new environments in a sustainable and cost-effective way. Giving an existing building a new function tends to be less expensive than demolishing and rebuilding. But, when recycling educational buildings, the process should entail a rethinking of their spatial use, it’s not only about creating a classroom, but a learning hub.

Universities must accommodate the needs of today’s students, bridging the gap between online and offline teaching and learning. The focus should be on the student and, as a result, learning spaces need to become flexible and multi-use, allowing scholars to interact with each other and to work collaboratively in their learning process.

As a result, understanding how obsolete and inefficient spaces which use 19th - 20th-century infrastructure affect students is key in order for learning spaces to meet the academic needs of 21st century education.

Creative Repurposing of Educational Spaces for Innovative Student-centred Environments (CREST) project aims to address such challenges through a comprehensive research and analysis of existing practices for the repurposing of educational buildings and spaces.

The CREST project is implemented by 6 partners from 5 countries: Slovenia (University of Ljubljana), Lithuania (MB HOMO EMINENS, VDU), Croatia (Culture Hub), Poland (UBC) and Belgium (OTB).

The project is co-financed by the Erasmus+ KA2 Programme of the European Commission.