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A social hub of information, technology and services
A profile of the new learning centre at the University of Leuven illustrates how architectural spaces are being repurposed for effective learning.
The profile of the Agora Learning Centre at University of Leuven, Belgium, has been specially written for Designing Libraries by Peter Verbist, Director for Agora.
Agora is a former pharmaceutical institute that has been renovated and turned into a modern learning centre for students and staff of the University of Leuven. It is an all-embracing learning space, where students can learn the way they want to. In short, they decide what, how and when. Agora means 'marketplace' in Greek, a social meeting place. In Leuven Agora also stands for a social hub where students and staff of our university can come together. Our slogan is loud and clear: "We support your learning!".
Extended opening hours are an important part of learning centres. Agora is open 363 days a year, up to 16 hours a day, from 8am until midnight on weekdays and from 9am until 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Agora is only closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Agora aims to be a social hub of information, technology and services. The learning centre offers up to 580 seats and is divided into three different areas: Social Study Area, Silent Study Area and Group Study Area.
The Social Study Space includes a Time-out Zone, where students can go for a cup of coffee and have a break with friends, and the FlexiSpace, an open zone with moveable furniture for group study or silent study depending on the learning activities throughout the academic year.
The Silent Study Area covers two large rooms where students can study or work in silence next to one another. The smallest room still contains the original pharmaceutical lab furniture where former generations of students learned to manufacture all sorts of medicines. In this area only covered drinks are allowed and mobiles must be silent.
The Group Study Area consists of 20 bookable rooms from 8 up to 20 seats and a plug-and-play touch screen. One room is fully equipped for video conferencing, two rooms offer presentation recording facilities, and two other rooms are suitable for video editing. All technology is free to use for students and staff, and they can make reservations using an online reservation tool. Each group, with a minimum number of 3 persons, can reserve up to 4 hours a day.
Agora opened its doors in April 2013. In the following 8 months we received over 260,000 visits. Most comments and feedback within the university and beyond have been very positive. It is not only heavily used by students, but students also make full use of the range of study spaces offered.
AGORA Learning Centre
Eduard Van Evenstraat 4, PO 3010
B-3000 Leuven, BELGIUM