The University of the West of England (UWE) has unveiled a new Engineering building that has been “designed with input from students with autism” according to a feature by the BBC.
While there are several schemes designed to attract more women into STEM, UWE wants to make those with conditions known as “neurodiversity” more comfortable on its campus.
The building is designed for 1,600 students and 100 staff and constructed around a central atrium to reflect the University’s aim to deliver an excellent student experience, through a dynamic and navigable layout.
The University hopes the facility radically transforms the delivery of engineering with a flexible lab and workshop spaces supported by rapid prototyping and studio space.
The building philosophy of flexibility extends across all the spaces by using multiple stepping floor plates which should allow for easy reconfiguration and better sharing of resources.
However, the University has been keen to emphasise that alongside the traditional large workshops, they have created numerous small spaces for people to work in small groups or on their own.
One problem for neurodiverse individuals has been Universities reliance on large classrooms with over 20 or 30 students all working and talking at once which can be overwhelming.
Alongside this, the University has configured these spaces to avoid brightly-lit white rooms and introduced new lighting, that allows users of the space to change its colour.
Of course, not all students will want to work in quiet relaxing spaces. The idea of the bright and airy building is to offer a mix of private and quiet spaces with other social spaces for collaboration.
UWE hope that by providing different spaces, different atmospheres, they will create a more diverse and support space for a whole range of different students.