What makes a great research environment? What kinds of technological, social and physical factors support interdisciplinary collaborative research? This is the focus on the EPSRC funded spires project. As part of my trip to Australia later in the year, and thanks to a little bit of extra dosh from spires, I will be visiting the Advanced Technologies Centre at Swinburne University, Melbourne.
It’s a pretty snazzy building, and the press release from it’s opening a couple of years ago makes some bold claims.
“Researchers from a mix of disciplines have moved in and will be conducting their work behind transparent walls. According to Dr Andrew Smith, Director of Swinburne’s Facilities and Services Group, this approach was taken to ensure that the university’s intensely technological endeavours were on show and not hidden in a back lot.
“It is about the university inviting the public to gaze in and participate for a moment in Swinburne’s long-standing love affair with the technology needs of industrial and post-industrial societies,” he said.
“Alongside the laboratory are social and teaching spaces, […] Interlinking the cluster of buildings is a series of hanging bridges, cobbled alleyways and landscaped lanes that give the feel of inner city Melbourne”
I’m hoping to visit the building for a couple of days in early August, have a look round and speak to a few people. It will be interesting to see how the building has bedded in and how effective it has been in creating a great research environment.
Although at the moment I’m still not particularly sure what a great research environment is, especially for social scientists? I’m thinking that a pub is a good starting point!