Learning Landscape - Piura University

The Learning Landscape in the Tropical Dry Forest
The perimeter of the complex protects the interior from heat and direct Sunlight
The tropical Dry Forest
The forest framed by the building
At the inside, shaded open-air spaces nurture academic life
Ground floor plan and its non-designated spaces
Upper floor plan and schematic section
Sunlight as an imprecise sun clock
Upper floor circulation
cantilevered roofs, shade and circulations
gathering spaces where learning take place anywhere/anytime
vertical circulations as oasis of breeze and freshness

Primary Author

  • Barclay & Crousse Architecture

Contributing Authors

  • David Leininger (Assistant)
  • Julio Higashi (Structural Engineer)

Author

  • Universidad de Piura - María Pía Chirinos - Research Vice-Provots

Photographers

  • Cristobal Palma

Objectives

The building stands as a new educational typology created under four main concerns: A new learning landscape: The building offer spaces that can enrich learning, focused on enhancing quality of life as much as on supporting the learning experience. For achieving this, the building stimulates informal learning outside classical learning spaces. Learning can take place anywhere/anytime, blending mobile technology with social activity in the multiple non-designated open spaces it offers. Sense of community: The creation of non-designated spaces for students to work together outside the classrooms contributes to creating a sense of community, where the shared interests developed via networks is enriched through face to face interaction. Social and economic boundaries tend to blur when people learn to know each other in these nonhierarchical spaces. The building as a campus: Although clearly defined by a 70 x 70m quadrangular shape, the building is composed by 11 independent structures, 2 and 3 levels height, under ample cantilevered roofs that emerge from each one, providing shadow over multiple gathering and circulation places. It has a permeable ground floor that favors shortcuts across the building when walking through the campus. Space and Climate: By creating a comfort zone in the permanently sunny, hot and dry climate of the Peruvian northern desert, the shaded open-air spaces nurture the academic life the same way the dry forest allows living in the desert.

Context

The building sits in a huge campus located at the edge of Piura, a city built in a natural oasis of the Peruvian Northern desert, near the Equator. The campus shelters a remarkable sample of the Equatorial Dry Forest, mainly constituted by carob trees growing over sandy land. National policies encouraging low-income rural students in private universities fostered the creation of additional learning spaces for accommodating an increasing student and faculty population. This new learning landscape stimulates informal learning outside classical learning spaces. The main challenge was how to build harmoniously in a dry forest, using the most restrained footprint possible and be able to integrate the rural open-air way of life of the new students into the building. The campus offered very few shaded meeting spaces for interactions between students and with teachers outside the formal classes, so segregation could represent a real problem when admitting a very heterogeneous student population.

Performance

The project is about blurring boundaries between the campus space, informal learning, formal classrooms working places and eating points. It gathers students and faculty members as equals, so to encourage casual encounters between them. The building also creates a new centrality for the campus by envisioning overlapping networks of compelling places, which can offer multiple choices to users and generate synergies through adjacencies and the clustering of facilities. The 11 structures and the spaces within create a new learning landscape, structured around a rational, square-shaped circulation, so to facilitate orientation. At the same time, the spaces created between them are interstitial and labyrinthine, creating a series of unattended possibilities for gathering, resting and strolling. These spaces represent oases of breeze and freshness, where gaps between the cantilevered roofs ensure adequate natural ventilation and lightning underneath. Sunlight is therefore transformed in an imprecise sun clock as it moves through gaps and draw lines in floors and walls. The facades are equipped with vertical louvers and prefab trellis, depending on the orientation in the tropical setting, ensuring solar control in its perimeter.

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The Learning Landscape in the Tropical Dry Forest