The Castor (Caster) Wheel Revolution
This brings me to the topic on the commercial properties and aesthetics of new university spaces. I like to call this the 'Castor Wheel Revolution,' where innovation in teaching spaces comes in the form of two forked wheels fixed to the base of every piece of furniture and equipment. It is the ubiquitous space for teaching that is so nondescript that if all the furniture were wheeled away it could easily become a shopping centre or an office building. This extends to the offices for academics who work on castor wheeled desks and chairs in open plan white laminate planar deserts in the same insular manner as accountants or marketing staff. Your position reflected in the mobility of your furniture as only the Vice Chancellor has furniture of solid timber, heavy enough to represent some sense of permanence. The casual staff are so temporary that they are not provided with a desk at all. The marketization of the university is manifest in its architecture and spatial arrangements, its furniture and equipment.
I was first made aware of the commercialisation of university spaces at a conference in Auckland in 2010 by Sean Sturm and Stephen Turner in their paper 'Crystal Capital: the Business of University Building':
"There, everything communicates psychically with everything else in the code of capital: the language – the logo-rhythm – of the academosphere is encoded according to the design drive of econometrics, namely, in terms of economic calculability and accountability. And the mission of the University is growth, a mission that transcends its onetime imperative to educate and demands a glasshouse of industry: in Sloterdijk’s terms, an “immaterialized” and “temperature-controlled” enclosure.......The danger of this disclosure of the one space of the transcendental university, a space that grows in us and in which we grow as teachers and learners, is that it closes out the many human foibles by which education flourishes: just talking, being idle, sharing, charity, invention."
Sean Sturm and Stephen, University of Auckland, at Interstices 2010 (http://interstices.ac.nz/unsettled-containers-aspects-of-interiority/)
If you have photos or stories of teaching spaces at your university - I would be really interested in hearing from you.