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The American university in Cairo AENG 334 Behavioral Sciences for Architects SPRING 10

Human Behavior at the AUC LIBRARY Dr. NAGWA SHERIF Dr. HESHAM GABR By: EMAN AREF SHAHD OMAR YOMNA FOUAD AHMED AWADALLAH AHMED SHARA    


Introduction: The library is a central space in any university campus, and the AUC is no exception. Being a centre for student interaction, the library design should aim to foster education by creating userfriendly spaces that encourage and stimulate learning. Furthermore, the library should be designed to accommodate and meet the needs of the large number of students that visit it everyday, each with a different purpose. Our world today is ever-changing, and one of the aims of the library is to keep the students in touch with the rest of the world through its technologies. Furthermore, traditional modes of learning have been replaced by new ones which introduce different ways of interaction and provide for a variety of learning styles. These new ideas in the world of education are naturally reflected in design, as we will see in the AUC library building.

Problem Definition: We aim to investigate how the design of the spaces in the library serves the human need for privacy and personal space through nurturing the following learning objectives: • Concentration level of students Students are more likely to concentrate in a space in which they are comfortable. Feelings of comfort are enhanced through privacy and the absence of crowding (or the presence of personal space). • Productivity level of the student Productivity is also related to comfort, as a lack of privacy and personal space may hinder productivity by creating distractions or feelings of discomfort. • Improvement of individual learning Individual learning is enhanced in private spaces where there's little room for diversion. Personal space is also required for concentration. Computer technologies, the use of which is optimized in the absence of crowding, also facilitate individual learning. • Facilitation of group learning and cooperation Groups interact best when they work privately rather than in crowded or noisy areas. • Fostering of proper behavior Quiet areas in the library foster proper behavior by decreasing noise and forbidding smoking. • Establishment of proper mood for learning Quiet and private areas, as well as comfortable non-crowded areas, encourage students to focus on their work. • Decrease or eliminate unnecessary distractions Both acoustic and visual privacy eliminate distractions and allow the student to concentrate on their work and avoid diversions. Selected Spaces: We decided to conduct our research about the library because it's an important place for education and student interaction. After observing the spaces in the library and acquiring its ground plans, we found that, although there are four floors in the library, it is actually composed of a limited number of repeated spaces with similar qualities. The following maps highlight the main zones in the library that are repeated on the four library floors: We divided the library space accordingly into the following areas: • Computer areas Areas where computers are available to be used by students both individually and in a group. Some of these are central and so are closer to the main library entrance, while others are less central and so are quieter.


Partitioned areas Areas which consist of long rectangular tables where students can sit across from each other and study. There are small partitions in the centre to allow students on either side privacy in order to help them concentrate. Conference rooms Closed spaces with a large conference table, chairs, a computer and chairs. It is designed for group meetings and so grants the users a greater amount of privacy because it is a closed space, although there is no visual privacy since the walls are made of glass.

Each of these spaces is designed to serve a different student need, and our aim is to investigate how efficiently these spaces meet the needs of the students through privacy and personal space. Privacy is defined as the ability of an individual or group to keep their lives and personal affairs out of public view (visual privacy) and hearing (acoustic privacy). It is identified by the ability of an individual to reveal oneself selectively and can be seen as a form of security. Privacy allows individuals to control social interaction and is considered an essential human need, the absence of which could result in frustration and discomfort. Experiencing such negative feelings affects how the human functions, possibly hindering their productivity and development. Personal space is defined as "a small protective sphere or a ‘Bubble’ that an organism maintains between himself and others" (THE HIDDEN DIMENSION, E.HALL,1966). It is a human need and is therefore necessary for the proper functioning of individuals. In the absence of personal space, or the presence of crowding, individuals become uncomfortable and therefore unable to concentrate or perform tasks efficiently. In order to allow for personal space, spaces must be large to create room for circulation as well as an adequate amount of space for every individual. Data Collection: After deciding on the main topic of our research we started gathering information about the spaces we selected to use as evidence in our investigation. HYPOTHESIS? Methodology: Before gathering information, it was important for us to plan our investigation ahead of time in order to identify what types of information we needed and define a method for collecting each type. We finally decided to gather the information we required in the following fashion: 1. Maps and plans: We started by identifying the location of the spaces we selected on base maps and plan in order to be able to visualize them and become aware of their context. 2. Observation: We then observed each space and the kind of activities taking place there. This helped us understand how the spaces were used to know whether they were performing their functions efficiently and whether or not they offered an adequate amount of privacy and personal space for the users. We recorded our observations by means of photographs and sketches. 3. Traces of use: This is another form of observation we used in which we observed the state of the spaces after they had been used by students. This helped us identify how the spaces were used and if the current furniture and space arrangements were sufficient for the students. 4. Questionnaire: After completing our observation process, we were able to come up with a series of questions to ask students. These questions were based on our observation of the space and how it was used. However, observation was not enough to sufficiently explain student activity in the library and represent how the users felt about the spaces. It was therefore important to inquire about the space in order to further understand the use of the spaces. After finalizing our plan we began to follow the steps mentioned above in order to obtain the data we needed. Our findings are demonstrated in the following section.


•

Maps and Plans Below is a map locating the library with respect to the entire AUC campus

•

Main Computer Area


Space Function Activities Who? How Long? Spatial Relations Environment Quality Supporting Environment

Observations and Comments

Computer areas Space for students to use computers individually or in small groups Studying, research, surfing the internet, eating Students, 15-60 minutes Next to main entrance Open spaces with circular tables with five computers each Natural and artificial lighting, air conditioning


1

2

3

Number

Observations

1

Students share one computer

2

There is a one meter distance between computers

3

Tables are circular

4

The pathway is a widely designed space, which is totally in contrast to the narrow spaced computer area beside it

Comments This could mean that they were not able to find a space to work together in a group, such as conference rooms or larger computer areas. It could also mean that they couldn't find computers to work separately and so had to share one, implying a lack of computers This provides a sufficient amount of space for each user and allows an adequate amount of privacy and personal space The circular shape provides each student with an adequate amount of surface area, and each computer is provided with visual privacy since they are not facing the same direction This gives the impression that that space is crammed


Number

Observations

Comments

1

There is a 1.8 meter distance between tables (including 0.5 meters for each chair which leaves us with 0.8 meters for circulation) The height of the ceiling is 3.5 meters which is low especially in comparison to the high ceiling at the entrance

The area left for circulation is not enough which explains the level of crowdedness

2

This contributes to creating the feeling of crowdedness for students using the computer area


Partitioned Areas

Space Function Activities Who? How Long? Spatial Relations Environment Quality Supporting Environment

Partitioned areas Space for students to study individually or use personal laptops Studying, eating, reading, sleeping, group work, using laptops Students, 1-4 hours Vary depending on location Open spaces with long tables with small partitions in the centre separating the two sides Natural and artificial lighting, air conditioning


Number

Observations

Comments

1

There are 0.5 meter high partitions at the centre of the table

2

There is a student sitting on the table

3

Each table is one meter long

4

There are two electrical outlets on each table

This gives visual privacy to students sitting across from each other. However, acoustic privacy is not granted which could be why some students use headphones to isolate themselves This shows that she finds it hard to communicate with work partners along the table because it is designed to accommodate individuals rather than groups. This suggests that there should be another space for the required type of communication. Also, this could suggest that there's a lack of chairs, or that the space is too crowded so all the chairs are occupied This should be enough to provide an adequate amount of privacy for one student. The area is designed to accommodate a 0.6 meter wide chair for each table but that is not always the case which results in crowding in some areas Although each table can only accommodate one user, the presence of two cable outlets encourages students to share the tables, which would result in crowding


Conference Rooms

Space Function Activities Who? How Long? Spatial Relations Environment Quality Supporting Environment

Conference rooms Space for students to study in groups Group work, studying, eating, reading, sleeping, using laptops, using computers Students and faculty, 1-2 hours Furthest from the entrance Enclosed in glass walls, acoustic privacy Lighting, air conditioning, computers, white boards and plazma screens


Number

Observations

Comments

1

Space is enclosed in glass rooms

2

There are five students in the room

Users are granted acoustic privacy, so that they are not heard by other students and so that they are away from noise. They can also practice presentations, or use the boards and television without distracting others. Also, they are provided with spatial privacy which gives them more freedom with how they can use the space. Space allows groups to work together privately

3

Rooms are spacious (6x4 meters) and are designed to accommodate a small number of students Students are sharing the computer

4

5

The table is rectangular of 3x1.5 meters

6

The chairs are moveable

7

Three students are working together on the computer, and two are working alone

This allows a larger amount of personal space per student, which decreases crowdedness Students can work comfortably together on one computer because the space allows it, unlike in the case of the partitioned and computer areas. However, students might sometimes need more than one computer to work in a group The wide length of the table provides students with the choice of sitting beside each other and therefore working together more comfortably, unlike what was seen in other areas. Furniture can be arranged in either a sociopetal or sociofugal manner, to allow students to control social interaction Perhaps the two students could not find a space to work privately so they shared the room with another group. Or, the space did not allow them to work with their other group members so they were forced to separate.


We then started observing the spaces in order to record the types of activities that take place in the different areas. We also realized that plans were important for identifying space locations and understanding its effect on the type of activities occurring in certain areas. Here are our findings:

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Semi-private areas Small spaces in which groups can work. However, they are not completely enclosed, but only by means of short glass partitions. Therefore, they are less private than conference rooms.

•

Group studying areas Consist of high or low tables surrounded by chairs. The seating arrangements are sociopetal and so create room for interaction. Students can study there in groups, each group separately on a table. This gives privacy to each of the groups.

AENG 334  
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