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Head in the Clouds: SITE students visit UCL School of Management at Canary Wharf

RebeccaPayne8 February 2017

Despite the exciting move of UCL to Stratford, it is not the first expansion of the campus, with UCL School of Management making their move last year to Canary Wharf. Therefore, we felt they were uniquely placed to offer us some insight into the challenges and exciting opportunities with having a split campus.

On Tuesday 31st we met with Jackie Loveland, the School Manager, and Zaiba Badrudin, the student experience co-ordinator to pick their brains on the last year. As we exited Canary Wharf station to approach the Central Tower where the school was based, what struck me was how unlike a university campus the area felt… is this the new, dynamic future of education in London?

It turns out this concern, or perhaps observation was noted by the SoM students prior to their move East, however these initial worries have apparently paled away once the students have come to realise the unique opportunities that being among businesses can offer them. Just above on Level 39 is Europe’s largest technology accelerator which they have been able to collaborate with as part of their Entrepreneurs course. Such connections are invaluable, and as part of this project we are hoping to establish workshops with fellow tenants in the UCL Here East site to understand how we can build similar relationships across the education, cultural and technology establishments.

As part of our visit we toured around the site; designed by Levitt Bernstein architects it is a case study of modernity, collaborative learning, and breath-taking views (although I’d avoid visiting on a winter’s foggy day if you can). Now it has come into use though, students have pointed out that the quiet study spaces are limited. Alternatives have been offered such as local library membership, but remaining close to one site is a priority for students. With the inside spaces still not designed for UCL East this is definitely a recommendation we could give the management team. To take this further, we’re hoping to take a tour with the Library service at Bloomsbury to learn about the existing services, and survey you to find out what is in demand and where we can improve the experience for the new campus.

Being separated from the main campus and its services, one of the areas we were surprised to learn that has not been developed is the community links; it relied on a student approaching the staff to request that this be looked into or established. UCL Bloomsbury does not stand alone but exists within the wider community of Camden, London, and the UK; with over 36,000 hours volunteered per year it forms a vital part of students’ UCL experience.

If you have had a volunteering experience that you want to tell us about or see established at the UCL East campus reach out to us now!

SITE team members at the UCL School of Management

SITE team members at the UCL School of Management

 

By Esme Stallard.

SITE: Students in the East

RebeccaPayne30 January 2017

If you’re anything like me, you probably rush around UCL’s campus in a caffeinated blur of activity, rarely stopping to contemplate your surroundings. You might occasionally feel infuriated by the swing doors underneath the Wilkins Building, sniff longingly at the doughy aromas emitting from Pizza Neo, or enjoy basking on the grass during sunny lunchtimes in the quad. You probably haven’t thought at length about how the campus is set out, how you move around it, or how it influences you and your studies.

Study in the East (SITE) is a staff-student collaborative Changemakers project which aims to produce recommendations for UCL East and Here East by investigating the strengths and weaknesses of UCL’s Bloomsbury campus. Led by the Bartlett, UCL Urban Laboratory, and 14 students from across the university, we are biologists, urbanists, economists and social scientists: more importantly, we are a group of people who use the campus every day, and want to think about it in more detail.

For those of you not aware, UCL East and Here East are imminent developments to UCL’s estate, situated in the Olympic Park, Stratford. Here East will open in summer 2017 and house new courses in the Bartlett and department of Engineering, with a focus on cross-disciplinary research. UCL East is expected to open during 2020, launching diverse new programmes in subjects including Heritage and Material Culture. Both sites are billed as opportunities for experimentation beyond the scope of Bloomsbury, whether this be through academic ingenuity, new ways of collaborating with external partners, or imaginative uses of space. Although aspects of these developments are finalised, there is scope for a group of enthusiastic students and staff to influence many decisions: that’s where we come in.

Since kicking off on January 19th we’ve had two lively project meetings, met with key academic staff involved in UCL East and Here East, and heard from experts on university-led regeneration. Next, we’re off to Canary Wharf to hear from UCL School of Management about their experiences of moving to a new campus in the middle of a business district. Then we’ll be donning warm layers for a bracing walk around the Olympic Park, where we will meet representatives from the local community and learn about their memories of and hopes for the site.

As we come from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, our research interests are broad to say the least. However, several key themes have emerged from our discussions so far. These include: public versus private space and UCL’s relationship with the Olympic Park, community engagement in and around the Olympic Park, and building a sense of identity and coherence between UCL’s Bloomsbury and Stratford sites. We also want to evaluate the strengths and challenges of working as a pan-disciplinary team of staff and students from across the university: so far, the logistical issue of finding overlapping free slots has been fairly time-consuming.

Over the next three months we’ll be conducting further site visits and research activities to investigate topics in relation to these themes. Some of our ideas so far include a Bloomsbury SOUP, drawing from the tradition of Detroit SOUPS, where people from the local community all pay a small fee to attend, projects are pitched, and several are chosen to be funded from the fees paid for entry. Oh, and everyone enjoys some soup. Our Bloomsbury SOUP would involve people pitching ideas for UCL East and Here East such as events or activities to enhance the sense of community.

Ultimately, we will apply what we learn about the Bloomsbury campus and initial plans for UCL/Here East, and produce a series of recommendations for those leading the developments. We will also produce an output, in the form of a report, film, or possibly even interpretive dance. More importantly, we want SITE to be the beginnings of stronger staff-student collaborative research into issues affecting everyone at UCL, as well as our neighbours in surrounding communities.

The SITE team

The SITE team

Curious? Contact studentsintheeast@live.ucl.ac.uk