As students’ needs have evolved over the past few years, so has education design. Gone are the days when outdated facilities and purely functional spaces were a defining feature of many universities. So much has changed in how students want to engage in their higher education experience. Consequently, there has been fantastic progress in how campuses are designed and built to create inspiring environments that enhance learning, collaboration, and well-being.
Here in the UAE, the higher education sector is developing fast, and some of the world’s best universities are establishing a presence amidst growing demand. Last year, Horton Interiors completed the design and build of Middlesex University’s new Dubai International Academic City campus, working on the project from concept design to handover. The results brought to life the University’s vision of transforming outcomes for individuals, communities and organisations and empowering people to change their lives.
The new Middlesex campus made history as the first time an international university in Dubai would offer a multi-site experience
The new Middlesex campus made history as the first time an international university in Dubai would offer a multi-site experience across the city’s international higher educational hubs. Naturally, it needed to draw people’s attention and attract students by encapsulating the Middlesex brand identity.
Some of the facilities at the DIAC campus include:
- Student zone
- Student think-tank and innovation space
- State-of-the-art learning labs and technology hubs
- State-of-the-art classrooms
- Faculty offices
- Reception/welcome areas
- Collaboration areas
Horton, renowned for its ability to combine comprehensive interior design, construction and fit-out capabilities all under one roof, wanted to create the wow factor with a design that would differentiate Middlesex from the other established DIAC education providers. At the same time, Middlesex wanted to maintain the brand equity they had built at Dubai Knowledge Park, so it was essential to create a ‘two campus, one community’ image.
To do this, Horton applied Middlesex’s most vibrant colours throughout to give it a fresher, more dynamic feel that is still in line with Middlesex’s brand guidelines. The firm also worked closely with Middlesex’s branding team to integrate inspirational quotes and phrases in bold, colourful lettering throughout the space.
Aside from the classrooms, the support spaces had to be as useable and flexible as possible, so students could stay on campus all day, relaxing, studying or socialising comfortably. Horton created a multifunctional collaboration space in the heart of the campus where students can work alone or in groups. This can also be turned into an event space when required. The corridor has game areas for people who want to have fun between classes, and there are focus booths for those who need some quiet time.
Horton created a multifunctional collaboration space in the heart of the campus where students can work alone or in groups
There were a lot of functional considerations the firm needed to include when designing the campus:
Horton made the campus layout as simple as possible, with wide corridors and intuitive wayfinding so students can move around easily, without disturbances.
All classrooms have acoustically insulated walls and acoustic ceilings.
The Townhall space has acoustic panelling on the underside of the slab to reduce the reverberation.
– Hard-wearing and easy-to-maintain materials
All walkways have ceramic tiles, which are hard-wearing and easy to clean. In addition, all walls have been painted with oil-based paint to prevent marking.
– Technology Integration
Middlesex uses the latest technology, and Horton’s team worked closely with its IT department to ensure all tech was seamlessly integrated and flexible. The firm also included accessible power points in all areas, enabling students to charge their devices quickly.
The new Middlesex University DIAC campus gained massive interest at its inauguration and has already attracted a record number of students. The design and concept of the new campus will be used for further rollouts in the region. If you have any questions about creating outstanding concepts for the education sector, contact Horton Interiors at +971 4 388 11 63 or send a WhatsApp at +971 55 796 0547. You can also send an email to [email protected].