University of Auckland - Student Hub Architectural Brief

Learn how Purple Shirt used human centred design methods to collaboratively define an architectural brief for the introduction of a Student Hub to the University of Auckland’s General Library.

Client: University of Auckland | Industry: Higher Education


Founded in 1883, Auckland is the country’s largest university with over 40,000 students. The University is deeply committed to improving the student experience which has led to the development of a new service model for the delivery of administrative and academic support services to students. The  "Student Hub" will be located in the University's General Library and offer a mix of support services and new self directed learning spaces.

The Opportunity

Define an architectural brief which can be used by the University’s architectural partner to inform their design process.To arrive at the brief the University asked Purple Shirt to support them in using human centred design methodologies to put customers and both administrative and academic staff at the heart of the design process.

Our Approach

We designed an activity based brief by applying human centred design methods and leveraging our knowledge from the Customer Experience Strategy for Support Services (led by Purple Shirt in2018), and the University's whole-of-student advisory model. The brief provided clear requirements for both front and back of house activities that the space must support. Having defined the customer modes for self-led learning in a previous project we explored the spatial requirements for each of the modes within the context of the Student Hub.

In addition to developing the spatial requirements we ran collaborative design workshops with customers, administrative and academic staff to define the vision, objectives and principles of the Student Hub.

 Activities included:

●     Stakeholder interviews

●     Customer intercepts

●     Co-design workshops

●     Focus groups

●     Activity based modelling

●     Desk based research

Outcomes delivered

●     Broad consultation with students including Māori and Pacific students, students with disabilities, faculty and staff

●     Delivery of a coherent architectural brief that reflects the diverse needs of the University's students and staff

●     Introduced, and made tangible, the concept of universal design

●     Provided concise spatial requirements for the design of activity specific spaces (focus, collaborate,socialise, relax etc)

●     Provided customer scenarios to illustrate how the service delivery model can be executed within the physical space

Working with Purple Shirt on this major initiative provided us with critical expertise on human centred design. The architectural brief met all of our requirements and has given us a terrific foundation for moving to the next steps. Purple Shirt are great partners, really listening to our needs and working with us throughout the process.

Sue Roberts | University Librarian and Director Libraries and Learning Services

What we did


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