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Evaluation of the Shuyin building
Education can shine a light on the darkness of human nature. However, when trying to improve the quality of education, educators often overlook the positive impact of changing the environment of the school, but the truth is that "The physical environment of the school affects students' and teachers' health, work, leisure, emotions, and a sense of place and belongings" (Henry, 2001). The Shuyin building is the place where we have classes and diversified activities, so it has a profound influence on us. In my view, the Shuyin building is a really wonderful place to study and it significantly enhances our study process and communication with people from different cultures. It is a really outstanding building in terms of functionality, safety and beauty.
The Shuyin building is the main teaching building for the School of International Business (SIB). SIB was set up in August, 2002. It is a designated institution in charge of the work of designing, organizing and managing internationalized majors and international cooperative programs (School of International Business, n.d.). As a result, the Shuyin building should provide SIB students with an environment which encourages open discussion and internationalization. The building with five floors was built in 1997, and it is in good condition now. Though the paint on the outside wall of the building seems old and in need of repainting, the interior facilities are what you might expect in the most modern schools in China and they are adapted to meet the different demands of people from different communities and facilitate multicultural communication.
At a regional Council of Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI) conference, Jeff Lackney (1998) summarized several research based design principles that are fundamental in developing a school building assessment program, among which spatial variety, flexibility of use and resource availability. These principles will guide my evaluation of the functionality of the Shuyin building.
Spatial variety requires a variety of places of different sizes and shapes and light (Lackney, 1998). The Shuyin building has done a great job here. The first floor consists of five big classrooms with a capacity of over 50 people each. These rooms are mainly for lectures and for several classes to attend classes together. On the second floor, there are seven mid-sized classrooms while the third floor is made up of eight small classrooms and 3 computer rooms. In addition, all the classrooms are of different shapes and layouts. Most rooms are well lighted by a dozen windows while Room 208 is not. The poor light in this room results from the blocking of light by the DUFE Coffee Room on the second floor. The lighting in the Shuyin Building is generally good except that the only fly in the ointment is that the lighting at night is not sufficient and sometimes some broken lights twinkle all the time which almost seems to drive one mad.
Flexibility was a common principle in the past and is still relevant now. "The building needed flexibility to accommodate future projections of class size, programs, teaching requirements and technology" (Architecture standards, n.d.). Teachers in SIB come from different countries with different teaching methods and diverse requirements when working. To meet these demands, every classroom in the Shuyin Building is equipped with movable chairs and desks unlike most classrooms in China where all the desks are fixed on the ground. In addition, the desks are of different sizes. " I think it is best for the students to be seated in pods or clusters using curved surfaces so they can view me and give their opinions freely during oral English classes" (Jane Martens, personal communication, November 12,2009). The classrooms with movable small desks satisfy this demand. It is just an example of how this works. In my view, though it may seem a small matter, yet it goes a long way.
Resources availability refers to providing educational, physical and various settings in close proximity (Lackney, 1998). The Shuyin building has three computer rooms each with over 60 computers, and they are all connected to the Internet. Information is easily accessible both from the World Wide Web and from the database provided by DUFE. There is also a free printer for students to print their findings on the third floor. Every classroom is equipped with a multi-media system with a big screen. It is applied to enhance the teaching process and promote choices and activities within a classroom. A Chinese and an English version of Windows XP are installed in each computer for home and Western teachers. "The negative impact of distance on the quality of the signal heard by the student is most significant "(Classroom standards, n.d.). However, the advanced acoustics in every classroom shoots this problem. In comparison,in the Zhiyuan building, which is the main teaching building for DUFE students, students often work under sub-standard classroom listening conditions because of poor acoustics. We are lucky to study in so good a building. In the Shuyin building, we also have a hot-water supply on each floor and a vending machine for coffee. All of these have made for SIB students a sound environment for study.
Safe places reduce threat, especially in urban settings (Lackney, 1998). DUFE is located near the downtown of the city of Dalian. As in the nest of DUFE, safety is really a big issue, but the Shuyin Building really provides the students with a secure place to study.
On one hand, the building is equipped with CK burglary-alarm system. The CK system is a computer systems integration and security technology qualification certificate system to prevent theft (baidu.com, 2009). Every overhead projector, computer and other expensive piece of equipment is protected by this system. I have been studying in the Shuyin building for over one year, but I have never heard about any thefts of these assets.
On the other hand, the management of this building is very good. A guard office is located on the first floor facing the main entrance of the Shuyin Building for the other two exits are locked. Everyone who comes into this building is seen by the guard. In principle, students from other schools are not allowed to come into this building. This aims to further enhance the safety of this building.
In order to experience healthy development, students require certain needs to be met (Henry, 1998). Aesthetic appreciation, in my view, is one of those needs. The building looks like a piano, and this is the reason why it got its Chinese name meaning "book music" which is magnificently conceived and very suggestive. Leaning against a lovely hill, it faces another hill through which runs the light rail line. The sea is not far away, and in warm weather the smell of the ocean is sometimes wafted towards us by the breeze which is warm and moist and refreshing.
On entering the building, one enters an ample and bright lobby. The floor is made of marble, which is smooth enough for you to see your reflection on it. On the wall reads the school motto, "Change individuals, change the world." Take a stroll through the hallways; there are pictures of some famous universities which cooperate with SIB and pictures of SIB students. Every door is made of wood, giving you a sense that they are time honored. Good schools need history, because time carries knowledge and wisdom.
The stimulating environment standard suggests thatusing displays created by students gives they have a connection to and in some sense. A feeling of ownership of the building (Lackney, 1998). SIB still has not done sufficient work in light of this standard. I think the lobby and the hallway can be taken advantage of to offer such displays.
In conclusion, the Shuyin building is, in fact, an excellent example of postmodern-style architecture. It provides students with spatial variety, flexible and resource-available classrooms. It gives consideration to both safety and beauty and is really a fine example of modern school buildings.
With the outgrowth of reports of increased violence, dropouts and youth unemployment, there has been an expressed need for overhauling the education system. To solve those problems, in my mind, calls for efforts from all sides. Maybe improving the school environment is an important part of the solution. As students are the future of the country, people who construct the buildings are not just building structures but perhaps helping to create a better world.
- Architecture standards (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2009, from Home Page at http://www.ssoe.com/docs/UMFlint_White_Building.pdf
- Baidu.com (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2009 from http://zhidao.baidu.com/ Classroom standards (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2009, from Home Page at http://www.caslpa.ca/PDF/noise%20in%20classroom/noise%20in%20classroom%20backgrounder.pdf
- Lackney, J. (1998). Twelve Design Principles. Presentation at CEFPI Conference Workshop. Minneapolis, MN
- Sanoff, H. (2001). School Building Assessment Method.
- School of International Business (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2009 from http://sib.dufe.edu.cn/english/index.asp