The face of education has changed in the fast-paced age of digitalisation and globalisation. But this change isn't just affecting teaching methods and curricula. The physical space where learning takes place has also undergone a transformation. At the new campus of the Berlin School of Business and Innovation (BSBI) in Berlin Neukölln, Kinnarps has helped to create a learning environment that allows students to immerse themselves in the world of their future workplaces.
On a corner, diagonal to Karl-Marx-Straße in the busy district of Neukölln, lies the listed “Alte Post” building that used to house the post office. Its striking red brick facade has been shaping the character of the neighbourhood since 1899. The front sides have striking gables and are aligned to the two roads. Large, semi-circular window fronts with elements in renaissance style, as well as elaborate design elements from different eras make the building a major eye-catcher.
Letters no longer start their journey to destinations all over the world from this building. The site is now used by international students who attend lessons there in various courses of study. Global University Systems (GUS) group of companies has rented 5,000 square meters over three floors for its private university BSBI to create an innovative learning environment for 1,200 students and around 200 administrative employees. GUS, which owns 32 brands worldwide and runs 89 locations in 48 cities over 450,000 square metres, searches for, rebuilds and designs educational facilities to the highest professional level. Both management and academic leadership have their own requirements, which are used as a basis for making decisions on a new location.
One of the most important decision criteria in every selection is sustainability, says Roy Lavian, Head of Property Development at GUS. The architect sees the reuse and continued use of existing buildings and their layouts as an important new architectural movement. "If you want to take responsibility for the planet and the environment, you have to adopt this approach, even if you have to make a few compromises along the way." For example, at BSBI Campus, instead of everything being split up, torn out or rebuilt, many of the existing offices were preserved, interior walls were retained and floor coverings left in place. Together with furniture from Kinnarps, the campus offers a harmonious mix of modern aesthetics and sustainable design that creates a sense of well-being for all users. Existing structures and materials were preserved and reused. "The main goal is to reduce the environmental footprint," says Roy Lavian. This "reuse" approach is more than just a trend; it's a statement.
The decision to choose Kinnarps also fitted in with this idea. Kinnarps impressed with its high-quality, durable and flexible product range. The tables, such as Foldex, are modular and mobile, making them easy to customise for different learning situations. They are equipped with castors and can easily be moved to other locations or folded away to one side.
"The collaboration with our contact at Kinnarps was very harmonious, he always understood what we wanted and needed"
In addition to the product range, the decision-makers were also impressed by the interaction with the Kinnarps team: "The collaboration with our contact at Kinnarps was very harmonious, he always understood what we wanted and needed", says Lavian.
The fact that Kinnarps’ furniture is so flexible also supports the interior design concept. This is based on the approach used in gyms, where the arrangement of the devices is changed every three to six months to prevent visitors from getting bored. Based on this methodology, the aim is to regularly change the furniture in classrooms, so the learning environment remains interesting and motivating for students who spend several years there studying for their bachelor’s degree.
Kinnarps has furnished all areas, from the classrooms to the waiting areas, the lounges, the cafeteria, and the offices. Students want the place where they study to look good. "We have made sure that many areas are 'instagrammable' and we also offer our students a visual platform where they can share their experiences," says Roy Lavian.