Educators’ Lounge

To Dap Hartmann, having people who do not teach design lecture halls is like letting fish design bicycles.

(Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

Upon the completion of Pulse five years ago, I was astonished by some of the spaces that were supposed to be lecture halls. The area designated Technology resembles a hardware store depot, while Hall 1 and Hall 3 appear to be more suited for the terrace-style cultivation of potted plants than for conducting lectures. Who conceived this, what mind-altering substances were involved, and why did no one intervene?

With plans for another lecture hall building already underway, I wanted to get involved. I requested and obtained a seat on the Education Spaces Advisory Group. To my amazement, I was the only one actively engaged in teaching. Letting non-educators decide on lecture halls is like entrusting fish with the design of bicycles. When I asked about the possibility of adding an educators’ lounge, I was stared at in complete bewilderment. The emphasis was solely on catering to students’ needs, such as study spaces and meeting areas. Could teachers not simply use these?

It came as quite a surprise that teachers have very different needs. Not noisily sharing TikTok videos, but a quiet refuge with comfortable chairs and coffee and tea brewing facilities. A peaceful retreat to make last-minute preparations for their upcoming four-hour lecture – just to paint a picture.

Echo did eventually get an educators’ lounge, but for a long time, you couldn’t get in because the door was locked. Apparently, it was too difficult to activate lecturers’ campus cards to grant them access, and so now the door is always open. The panoramic view from this third-floor room is fantastic. That concludes the good news. The bad news is that the educators’ lounge has the appearance of a lunchbreak shack on a construction site.There is a long table with eight chairs. The specific need for this is unclear. There is a bare pantry with a tap and a sink where you can really only wash your hands. Who came up with the luminous idea to install eight lockers? Given that most teachers have a laptop, why are there two desks with a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse? And what is the idea behind the two mobile filing cabinets, each containing four empty drawers?

Has anyone ever asked teachers what they would like to see in an educators’ lounge? Has anyone looked at educators’ lounges in other institutions? Probably not, because I would imagine that you would then not end up with this company mess hall but with a cosy lounge such as this one or that one that meet teachers’ needs. There are even guidelines online on how to create an educators’ lounge:

  1. Start off by asking teachers what they’d like for the space.
  2. I’m sure you have ideas, but the space really isn’t for you.
  3. As long as the needs of the teachers are met, they’ll love the space!
  4. There’s sure to be a few things you wouldn’t have thought of without the teachers’ input that are essential for the space.

Just listen to the users’ needs, how difficult can that be? I eagerly await a complete makeover where this valuable lesson is put into practice.

Dap Hartmann is Associate Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Delft Centre for Entrepreneurship (DCE) at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. In a previous life, he was an astronomer and worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Together with conductor and composer Reinbert de Leeuw, he wrote a book about modern (classical) music.

Columnist Dap Hartmann

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