“Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces” by Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi analyzes how the architecture of certain college campuses can work to relieve its students of the mental agitation that they face in the classroom. Nature, which can be defined in many ways, creates an environment for students that allows them to relax and put their mind at ease while also stimulating it. It is mentioned that being in touch with nature can come in many forms including having a house plant, a pet, walking in an open park, or a forest crowded with trees. Nature can be an agent to cleanse the mind which can be further explained by the Attention Restoration Theory. The theory suggests that nature has the ability to have a recovering effect on those who are cognitively exhausted.
University campuses that incorporate rain gardens, green houses/roofs, and living laboratories create a space where students can not only study and take care of the plants themselves, but it also gives the rest of the students a place where they can go to restore their attention. In addition, campus buildings can be constructed in ways to encourage the students to relax their mind like having open window space, natural light, one story buildings, and having the aforementioned nature spaces near by.
The idea behind this theory has played a significant role in campus construction all the way back to the United State’s first university, Princeton. Princeton was constructed in a more rural area with its buildings formed in a way to secure its students from the outside world as if to create a special sanctuary of learning. The nature surrounding the campus may have had a positive impact on the students, and in many college campuses today, the architects strive to have nature present in their layout.
However, students in the twenty first century are attracted to universities that are in urban areas in hopes to make easy connections with future internships and careers. Georgia State University is a perfect example of an “amorphous and integrative” campus (Scholl and Gulwadi). It is difficult to tell where the university ends and the city begins, and there is not much of a nature presence on campus. Although the natural element is not particularly present, students are drawn to Georgia State and perhaps have their nature fix by owning a pet or house plant.
In addition to present day campuses, Scholl and Gulwadi also discuss the history of university architecture. Due to the increase in students after World War II and the Great Depression, there underwent a massive reconstruction of campuses. The updates to buildings and equipment in the sciences and other subjects took the attention away from the importance of having a wall of security between the students and the outside world. It was then that campuses tended to construct separate areas of campus for different disciplines. The layout of campuses started to be more open and less secluded. This change contributed to increasing the sense of community, allowing students to more easily participate in recreational activities, and has an overall positive effect when working to recruit students and professors to chose their campus over others.