Mindfulness, Wellbeing and 40 winks

Ostrich pillow

One of the most prominent insights revealed by our interviews with you in October was an overwhelming desire for spaces in the library that encourage relaxation and foster mindfulness.  Many interesting ideas were put forward including,

  • Mindfulness or Wellness zones
  • Flexible space for yoga and Thai Chi
  • Comfortable area to watch YouTube and listen to music.
  • Places to meet and play board games such as chess
  • A Zen Garden
  • Sensory rooms

All of these ideas were suggested multiple times. However, the request that recurred most frequently was for sleep pods. This makes a lot of sense, power naps help you to reset your system making you more alert and giving you a burst of energy.  A study by the University of Düsseldorf has shown that even very short naps enhance memory processing, while a Nasa study, looking at their effects on pilots on long flights, reported that naps maintain or improve performance, physiological and subjective alertness, and mood. According to WebMD, even a 20-minute nap is good for alertness and motor learning skills while longer periods such as 30 minutes can help boost memory and enhance creativity.  They go on to add that nodding off is even better for your productivity than a cup of coffee as caffeine can decrease memory performance. “So you may feel more wired, but you are also prone to making more mistakes.”

Google is well known for their innovative offices and has been using nap pods like the ones below for several years (the models shown in the picture below are actually from California State University’s Wellness Centre).  They are fairly big, and we suspect they would be expensive, but you don’t need lots of space or expensive equipment to create a pro-napping environment.  All you need is a comfortable place where you can shut out the light.  One of our favourite products in recent years is the Ostrich Pillow (below) which is tailor-made for quick post-lunch naps – Now imagine you could have your own Ostrich Pillow stored at the library ready for use!

We would love to hear more of your ideas for relaxing pro-napping spaces. Leave your comments here or tweet your thoughts to @warwicklibscape

Sleep pods



Your vision of the future

Asking people what they think will happen in the future is always tricky. More often than not most people will respond to the word ‘future’ by coming up with some crazy Star Trekesque vision of what might be. But Futurecasting is an essential part of big business. Intel’s Futurist, Brian David Johnson advises that Futurecasting is a process that begins with people from all walks of life and a LOT of conversation and to some extent, this is what we have been trying to do with the LibScape Blog.

Other Futurists examine past patterns and current trends searching for early ideas and innovations that are likely to catch on. For example, with all the new social learning environments now available students may long for something more traditional and formal. Alternatively, the increase in simulation as an academic tool could make a case for creating environments replicating those you might encounter in your future career.

The articles on the LibScape Blog so far have been designed to inspire creative thinking. Some ideas may be a little far-fetched, and some of the spaces we have included might be a little extreme, but we want to provoke a reaction and to prompt you to think big!

The truth is that changes in the near future are likely to be an evolution of what is happening or starting to happen now. For example, you may already do all your active learning online, downloading lectures, taking part in exams, collaborating on group projects and so on. It would be logical that your new university spaces will need to support these activities but what would that mean? Some would argue that the social aspects of your learning spaces will become increasingly important as the need for a sense of community intensifies in reaction to the isolation of our online lives. The extreme version of this would mean that universities might drastically reduce in scale, fragment or entirely change their layout and structure.

To inspire you to think about your current experience and potential future solutions we have embedded a short film. This film was made several years ago by anthropology students at Kansas State University and was part of a project that examined their ‘Vision of Students Today.’ It presents an honest view of the student experience, and it inspires us to think creatively about potential future solutions.

We hope you enjoy the film and leave us some comments.

We would love to hear your ideas!


Identity & Belonging

WarwickThe notion of identity is often an overlooked yet critical issue when creating a new space. A good identity will connect with people, giving them a sense of pride and a feeling of belonging. In our experience understanding the real, rather than the perceived identity of a community is often the route to creating a successful place. 

As mentioned in previous posts Universities across the country have been developing new types of space and new buildings to support student experience in the 21st century. Although these are often pleasant contemporary spaces there can be a degree of similarity and replication that occurs due to the types of products, materials and furniture available on the market suitable for these large public spaces amongst other factors. 

In our experience, the spaces that stand out as special are those that express something about the identity of that place and the community who inhabit it. There is a myriad of ways in which this can be achieved from the design of the architectural envelope through to the furniture specification, internal artwork and even the online personality of a place. 

We are often asked to write/speak about this topic, and two projects in our portfolio illustrate the point. These projects are very different yet just over a mile apart geographically. The first project is a University of Glasgow space. In this space, a huge glazed facade looks out onto the wonderful historic architecture of the UoG campus while vintage furniture borrowed from the Art Deco period reading room on campus and oak finishes throughout provide tangible links to the past. Underlining all of this are a series of graphic artworks constructed from University archive and museum materials which display a mixture of achievements, historical events, people and quirky cultural references, which could only be found in this place. 

The second project is at Glasgow Caledonian University and provides a sharp contrast to UoG. Here the architecture and internal structures have been used to express the concept of a forward-thinking, ambitious, different place. The design mixes organic forms with furniture and materials that are colourful and quirky to blend the inside with the newly landscaped exterior juxtaposing the internal artwork which is abstract, sharp and geometric. 

So how can we uncover the real identity of the University of Warwick and in particular the Library community? 

Responses to our field interviews have shed some light on this, and we will soon be loading up a poll to prompt you to give us more information on this subject so please do keep checking back. Alternatively, if you have strong views about the identity, we should be striving towards leave a comment or tweet at us here @WarwickLibScape

Building on your views

One of the strongest – and most welcome – themes of the new University Strategy is the importance of partnership working with students in the co-creation of the Warwick Education experience.  Or, to paraphrase the Education Strategy – and put it in simpler language – ‘our priority is to listen to the student voice’.

Warwick has always listened and responded to student needs and eagle-eyed readers will have recently seen the phrase ‘let’s keep the dialogue going’ and a capital D on its side (representing ‘Dialogue’ and a mouth – clever stuff!) on posters and digital screens around campus advertising surveys.

The National Student Survey – the biggest of these questionnaires – enables undergraduates to raise concerns about their teaching and learning experience.  PTES and PRES offer the same opportunity to postgraduates. The biggest issue raised about the Library is around study space.  There are some lovely comments about how much students like the Library spaces but more comments about how the Library is ‘too small’ and that study space across campus is at a premium, especially in Term 3.

Over the years the Library has responded to such comments with the development of new and different study environments – the Learning Grids in University House, Rootes Grid, Leamington Grid, the PG Hub and Research Exchange, as well as on-going remodelling of the main Library.  When students lobbied for a 24 x 7 Library we worked with the University to make this a reality.


But more work is needed. We all know the Library is ‘too small’ but we need more granularity too.  What sort of space do you want?  Where? And when?

This is why we are working with Nomad to get your views to inform not only longer term plans (a new Library is in the University’s Capital Plan for 6-10 years) but also to improve things for you over the next 2-3 years.

So, what would help you? We’re listening…


Ant Brewerton.

Head of Academic Services.


What others are doing?

What other have done Montage

Our team has been working with people to design new learning spaces for many years now and being a group of focused, dedicated and slightly obsessed perfectionist types we have amassed a huge library (excuse the pun) of other people’s work that we admire. Nathan, one of our senior designers regularly reviews new projects from around the globe to see what we can learn from others, and he has put together countless presentations for our clients on the topic.

Our reference pool stretches outside of education as we think it is important to look at the places where students might be living, working and playing in the future. We wanted to share some of these fantastic projects with you, but there were far too many, so we selected our top ten libraries. This includes,

  • Almere Public Library –  MVSA Architects 2010
    A cross between a library and a bookshop
  • Brest Mediatheque Des Capucins Canal – Architecture 2017
    A bold and dramatic use of space creating lots of spaces to watch and be seen.  
  • Gifu Media Cosmos ‘Minna No Mori’- Toyo Ito  2015
    Intimate, comfortable, organic and simple
  • Ryerson University Student Learning Centre -Snøhetta 2015
    Vast, dramatic and filled with choices of space
  • Seattle Central Library – OMA/LMN – 2004
    One of the first new libraries and still one of the best.  The massive lobby places the focus on people first. 
  • Sendai Mediatheque- Toyo Ito  2000
    An attempt to use new notions of ‘media’ as an architectural concept Sendai is full of interesting places to meet others and work.  
  • Tama Art Library – Toyo Ito 2007
    Elegant organic structure creates a feeling of the outside and inside flowing into one another with beautiful views and furniture that such as long winding glass tables and organic benches that are like streams and islands.
  • Tianjin Binhai Library – MVRDV 2017
    Shaped like a giant eyeball and with an interior formed from one continuous shelf the angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing. 
  • Victoria University Wellington Campus Hub – Architectus  2013
    The project shifts boundaries and creates an overlap between learning, social and recreational functions in a multi-functioning, flexible environment.
  • Yale University Beinecke Rare Books Library – SOM 1963
    Traditional, solemn, respectful, innovative. 

If you want to see more pictures of these projects click on the page link here or on the image above. We would love to hear what you think of these projects and if you have other suggestions too.  Leave your comments below or tweet at us – @WarwickLibScape

Nomad Team.




Thanks to everyone who took part in interviews!  Unbelievably we managed to get 90 of you to participate and we have to say that the quality of feedback has been great. 

Over the next few weeks we will continue to load up stories and their will also be some polls and other activities for you to take part in so please keep coming back.