Flexibility and technology in training environments.

As the cost of space becomes more prohibitive and our behaviours change thanks to the quickening pace with which new mobile technologies are developed, it’s not surprising that flexibility is the key to keeping our everyday spaces fit for the job. That’s particularly true of new learning environments and teaching spaces and there’s no better example than the Hospitality Guild’s new facility – Hospitality House in East Finchley, London.

The Guild’s vision was to create a learning space which would bring the whole industry together, providing a real life working environment for those studying any aspect of hospitality – for bar staff, chefs, barristers, waiting on staff, front of house and more. McDonald’s gifted its former head office building to the Guild, providing a 15,000 sq ft space to accommodate Hospitality House. The challenge was to cater for a myriad of training needs in one relatively small space and to extend the learning experience beyond the House’s physical location in London.

Flexibility is at the heart of the answer. Moveable cooking stations, bar fridges and furniture work in tandem with partition walls to allow the 15,000 sq ft space to be configured in a variety of ways, depending on the requirements of the subject, students and teaching staff. This focus hasn’t compromised the ability to still have clearly distinguishable learning spaces to support different training and equipment needs for disciplines as varied as food preparation to drinks serving, silver-service and cellar work.

An integrated, state-of-the-art AV system was also needed to deliver the other part of the Guild’s vision: to make Hospitality House a resource for all members, regardless of location. The chosen system allows training to be videoed and streamed live via the internet to Guild members regardless of location. Similarly, training can be delivered remotely by lecturers, extending the reach of the Guild and the quality of its training further. The use of technology in this way has made the space even more flexible, with it acting as a hub for information and content sharing, as well as a physical place to bring students together.

What this project shows is that flexible learning spaces offer infinitely more value to their occupiers. The training on offer today will be different to tomorrow and effective, efficient learning spaces must be able to support that shift. The flexibility of this space also means it can be used by other businesses in the area, making it a community resource and adding to its revenue potential too. Thanks to technology, geography is no longer a challenge adding another facet to how the space may be used. For The Hospitality Guild its vision has been realised: it now has an unrivalled training environment which puts real-life experience and digital technology at its heart.

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