Creativity, energy and fun for international and Romanian students – innovative ”bees”

Creativity, energy, fun, togetherness, flow – these are the key words that describe the BEST Summer School, „The hubs and the bees, design the perfect academic hive!”, organized by BEST TUIASI and Vice-Rectorate  for International Relations of ”Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iasi, during 10-23 July 2022, with financial support from the project ”Internationalization through Transferable Knowledge and Visibility, iTRANSFER”, CNFIS-FDI-2022-0021.

Students enjoyed unique learning and networking experiences, starting with applying design thinking rules in making the profile of the user and the activities that will be held in the space, continuing with the process of proposing functional roles for the space.

During the first week, the students and their trainers have focused on an entrepreneurial approach, starting with the needs identification, by interviewing possible beneficiaries, exploring the space and looking for the best facilities. In the Design Thinking methodology, this is called the “Empathize” step. This was followed by the “Define” step, with creating personas and synthesizing the identified needs converging towards the specific problem definition. The third step, “Ideate”, moved the activities to the solution space, consisting in generating ideas by structured brainstorming techniques followed by ideas clustering, voting and prioritization. The ideation step transitioned towards the second phase, in which the students moved from the hub functionalities to hub physical design and prototype.

During the second week, the students together with their trainers let their imagination run wild and through a series of brainstorming techniques, mind maps, mood boards and 3d design they came up with two different concepts for the space. The process was an exploratory and free one that challenged the skills of the participants, for whom architecture was not their field of study. 

Both the proposals wanted to keep the openness of the space intact, and to not intervene with hard partitions. The use of the curved line is deliberate and not just a design quirk, from a psychological standpoint shapes without corners make us feel more comfortable.

The first proposal called Room with Views, takes advantage of the pillar and beam structure of the existing building and proposes a perforated façade in which small balconies can be added to create indoor-outdoor spaces. During the site visit the students observed that the pipes that collect rain water pass through the room and that lead to the addition of a green ceiling made with plants that can absorb some of the heat from the computers and act as a natural air-conditioning system. The color palette is neutral using a lot of wood and vegetation with just a pop of yellow. The premise that started the project was that nature increases productivity, looking outside the window, resting our eyes on vegetation can help us focus more, and make us feel less tired.

The second proposal called Bending- Mending Walls comes with a different strategy, it uses strong color to engage and stimulate the users and it manipulates space by eliminating the corners of the floor, making it one continuous curved surface. The study areas would be carved into the floor and covered in the same green vinyl. In the middle there is an orange pliable wall made out of recycled cardboard that can shipshape the room and create private areas. The aesthetic that was approach is an organic one with key word like soft, continuity, flow.

Some thoughts from the students about International Summer School: ”The BEST experience was wonderful, I don’t know where to start, I don’t want it to sound like a cliché, but it was one of the most beautiful periods of my life. I discovered new people, different mentalities and got out of my comfort zone by having to work in a team within the Academic. I look at the time spent with the group, at all the activities, games, trips, walks and Dominic’s food with nostalgia. The teachers and the BEST team always made sure that we didn’t miss anything, thus offering us everything we needed to make the educational process worry-free.” – Madalin Costel; ”I had a great time during the course, I think that the activities you organized worked perfectly to break the ice, and everyone was really nice!! I’d add more tiramisu and crepes (I’m kidding, but really, they were really really tasty!!) I really liked the parties, I had lots of fun! I would definitely recommend it!! – Inés