Interior design

Ask the Expert: Creating inspiring environments on campus

Penny TiffneyPenny Tiffney, Technical Officer for Interior Design, Estates Services explains the impact of interior design on campus.

Bringing to life our aspiration to create a world class campus involves balancing the structure of buildings with the internal environment to be created.

The psychology of the space within a building is critical as it encompasses how lighting, temperature, colour, furniture, materials and layout can have a positive impact.

Do positive environments contribute to a dynamic learning culture for our staff and students?

It is important to have spaces that are fit for purpose.  Within a University environment, there needs to be flexibility in working spaces, learning spaces and social spaces.  A room for learning, teaching and communicating with peers has to have the correct level of lighting, spacing between furniture and correct acoustics.

What impact does furniture, lighting and flooring make on the learning environment?

The furniture should enhance the space and make for effective working or be comfortable for socialising.  We, as a University, go through a set of strict criteria when procuring new furniture and we analyse the furniture for its sustainable and ergonomic credentials.  The new design of task chairs, for example, allow an individual to customise the positioning of the back, arms and height.  Even the fabric of the chairs should be carefully considered as it needs to be durable, yet comfortable.

The positive and negative effects of lighting can impact the way we interpret a space and importantly, the way we perceive colour.  Daylight is important for the positive health benefits but it can also increase temperature, so it is crucial that lighting can be controlled and this also includes our exposure to daylight.

Out of the key masterplan projects underway during the next 5 years, which are you working on?  Can you tell us a bit more about your role within the context of the projects?

I am currently involved in Transport, Engineering, the School of Healthcare and Residences. My role is to understand the clients’  needs from the space, their brand identity and how these are echoed in the design.  But most importantly how the space can be designed as  fit-for-purpose, durable and easily maintained.