There are some things at the University of Warwick that just take your breath away when you’ve been outside academia for years, and one of them’s this amazing place called the Learning Grid. The best description I can come up with: it’s a library for teams.
It’s got books, tables, chairs, PCs, all the usual stuff. But there’s no requirement to be quiet or bookish; if you want that, go to the proper Library elsewhere on campus. The Learning Grid’s ethos is teamwork. Large tables with six chairs around them, moveable screens you can wheel around to create your own ‘meeting room’, projectors and photocopying whiteboards and AV equipment up the wazoo. Group work is encouraged. Conversation and noise are fine. Steaming cups of coffee are welcome. The environment’s bright, modern, clean, functional, and stays that way 24 hours a day.
It’s a brilliant idea: not a replacement for a fusty-dusty bookworms’ haunt but an adjunct to one, something complementary to meet the needs a traditional library doesn’t answer. It’s a great place, well-designed, but not trendy, functional but not minimalist, with enough technology to model the protein folding problem and a buzz about it that’s instantly relaxing. If you had to model the ideal environment for white-collar teamwork from scratch, it’d look a lot like the Learning Grid.
**Reference: Tron (Early 1980s sci-fi movie)