22 December 2022
Entering the old or one of the ever-increasing number of new buildings means something different to everyone connected to the Medical School. It does not matter if one works or studies here, being in the place where they spend the most time after their home is a shared experience.
When the campus was first created, its designers probably did not really consider that the growing student numbers were not the only obstacle the institute would have to cross. There was a visible need for (comfortable and homely) spaces to study, to form and support communities aside from the spaces for lectures, seminars or research. A dormitory or a rented flat does not always provide the opportunity for deep study, and flats are definitely not the place for building community and connecting to one another.
With a course this learning-intensive one might think that reducing “empty times”, which is why medical students are well known for almost living on campus.
The leadership of the faculty and the university have long been aware of this, and there have been strong efforts to make our community spaces more liveable, as much as the current possibilities allowed. However, this is a long process arching over years and decades, and we still have room to grow; we still have places that are ripe for reimagination, expansion and modernisation.
The most important social expectation towards the faculty is obviously quality education. This has been the case in the past, the present and will remain the same in the future. The tools with which we can support out internationally acclaimed courses has been significantly expanded in the past few years. It is not an overstatement to say that the campus has become a second home to our students and colleagues. And this has not only be proven by the time spent here, but it has to be supported by the concept that we organise and develop our places and services accordingly.
The demand for supportive community spaces has greatly increased in modern higher education. The quality of life spent on campus, the high-quality experience needed to gain knowledge is an expectation just as important as quality education. Recognising this and creating a liveable, functional and inspiring environment is now a priority goal of universities, since – as we have already conceptualised in our work -, higher education these days is a race for students, good teachers, good employees, where the viewpoints thought to be exclusive have been significantly expanded.
The Pécs Medical School has recognised the importance of these new expectations in what we believe to be a timely manner. Aside from creating the PotePillars strategic plan, the vision about “the spaces of cooperation”, or Campus Cooperationis was created based on the same change of view. The dedicated group of professionals have tried to jam all the available opinions into the study in order to ensure that the Medschool campus infrastructure develops in the best possible direction. However, the process did not stop after the first few broad brushstrokes.
The Faculty is grabbing every opportunity to develop the existing infrastructure either from its own funds or by tender funding. The work mentioned above has shown that there is a need to understand the big plans in the scope of actual spaces, to ensure that instead of having too many tiny developments, everything should fit into a well-defined pattern, to strengthen each other based on the pre-existing vision.
We have created Locus Cooperationis to summarise the needs for forming social areas. It aims to phrase in the language of interior design what we want to achieve: a comfortable, homely, liveable and likeable campus that affects the quality of teaching and learning by its positive characteristics. The building has to support building community in a way that allows the student and teacher spaces to generate cooperation and building connections. We know now that studying is the most successful in places where learning support is realised in partner cooperations.
Despite the scale of goals and the amount of tasks, the work has only just started, but there are already results and there will continue to be visible results in the near future, which we will discuss in the following.
One of the first example of how the processes outlined above connect is the renovation of the bathrooms of the old building. Even though these rooms have received small repairs, the real solution was still a way away, since the problems were not only caused by the state of the tiling and the sinks, but also the almost fifty year old water and sewage pipes. The developments include the renovation of multiple bathrooms. The discomfort of the current renovation is caused by the act that both sides are renovated from the basement to the top floor – one side will be finished by the end of the year, the other side following after. It is important to emphasize that these rooms will be equipped in line with the new all-encompassing interior design concept, therefore they should show the sophistication with which all our future projects will be treated.
Making the social and learning spaces more comfortable is a priority issue for the Dean’s leadership, based on the needs of students. According to the plans, the spaces students use to study and socialise will be renovated continually not only in the old building, but also all over the campus. We are also looking for ways to include new areas as well.
The most visible development this year will be the start of the library renovation on the third floor. The process is planned to have to stages, and the first one is planned to be realised next year by creating a modern library and study space of almost 1200 square metres, which will purely serve the needs of students. They will have the opportunity for studying deeply alone, or in groups. The scale of the project is clearly shown in how most of the faculty’s yearly revenue will be used for this development.
While the all-encompassing renovation reaches everywhere, the existing spaces could also use you refreshing, especially since these large developments do not happen in a single day. The leadership of the faculty would like to reflect better on requests and critiques that hasten the betterment of the current status. Some of these are solutions that would make being on campus more comfortable really quickly. Therefore we started to refurnish social spaces, changing dated or uncomfortable furniture, and we are trying – wherever we can – to rethink how our study places could be organised most effectively. We expect the purchases to go through by the middle of Spring, therefore everyone will be able to spend the next semester and exam period in a more liveable old building.
As an immediate step we have started the purchase of hundreds of reading lamps in collaboration with the Student Councils for everyone to borrow, and we have doubled the number of wall outlets in the aula and the gallery above. aside from this, we will distribute one hundred chairs with folding tables from our reserves all over campus, dedicated for use by students.
The construction of the Campus Club will start in the basement of Honvéd street 1 next year, which we hope will be liked by the entire student body. The aging building needed renovation anyway due to problems with water seepage. The dean’s leadership has decided as a multi-functional building, with a restaurant, student meeting and party place, and event venue, which is much needed for the Medschool map.
The multifunctional name means real flexibility, which has served as the base of the design from the very start. A space mostly serving as a catering area can easily be transformed into the welcome area of conferences where medium-size workshops and presentation can also be held, but with catering still available. In the daytime, it could function as a club area suitable for meetings or get-togethers, but it could also host meals for 50-60 people on reservation if the need arises.
All of these designs are part of a larger whole that is more than a large stack of plans. The conversation about needs and dreams will remain open, with the open goal of forming community. We want to create a thinking, autonomous community that likes to form its environment responsibly. The goal is creating and developing a comfortable space at the Pécs Medical School that provides safety by way of community, while remaining an inspiring second home, where students and workers are happy to be, and what fills them with pride.
Dr. Miklós Nyitrai, dean