What does space mean to you? According to Dictionary.com, it’s a noun: the “expanse [where] material objects are located and […] events occur.” But it’s more than that sterile definition—it’s what constantly surrounds us, what we inhabit, and thus part of our mental and physical experience.
The Innovation Hub has conducted many projects examining the experience of space. Examples include Transforming the Instructional Landscape, Chill Spots, and the New College Dining Hall and Clara Benson Pool Gallery redesigns. Through this work, we’ve seen how the physical environment impacts us.
We learn by experience, as Innovation Hub members know. Since the Hub launched 3.5 years ago, many students have practised their design thinking, empathetic interviewing, data analysis, and professional skills through our projects. Recently, we’ve formalized this learning experience by partnering with academic courses. We provide practical projects for students to work on, and UofT’s excellent faculty and course instructors provide their subject expertise. Together, we provide a richer learning environment for students.
This question is central to the Innovation Hub’s methods. We use design thinking to take “a human-centred approach to solving problems,” and since the rise of empathic design in the late 1990s, designing for humans first has meant empathy.1