U Of O Architecture Dept Case Study

Nook Story

When Alison Kwok and several of her graduate students attended an educational conference in Portland last fall, they weren’t expecting to bring something home. As a professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon, and founder of the NetZED Lab, she has an eye for form and function and the way spaces are utilized.

Professor Kwok wasn’t sure initially if Nook was meant for schools and students, but learned how Nooks are often quite useful in educational settings, for small group activities, and she said to her students, “What do you think? Should we bring this home with us?” She placed the order that day at the show. Their Nook story began.

The Nook placement in her department has unfolded organically and Kwok says the Nook has become a part of the way that the students use their space daily. One of the more unexpected benefits is the way “students could be working at the table, yet be part of a bigger social thing; still feeling like they were sort of sheltered, yet totally comfortable. And the students have said, ‘When we’re in here, it’s just so quiet!’ They really like being near their noisy friends while avoiding distraction.”


Nook Provides Solutions

Nook satisfied a need, according to Kwok. “Our space in the architecture building has very few places where students can sit together and do work outside of their design studio. Their design studio is their main hub, and if they want to get together with friends, to work on other assignments outside of design class, there is a shortage of seating with a table, and that’s where the Nook fits the need perfectly.”


Nook Cultivates Community

Shortly after the installation, Kwok created a notebook to place inside the Nook that invited interaction and encouraged feedback; it explained how she had purchased the Nook for the students to have a space to gather, and she invited them to share how the Nook made them feel, and to describe some of its qualities.The “Nook Book” was the perfect prompt for students building careers in design. The prompt asked them to critically think about the way that the Nook served a need, and as users how it served their needs.


Nook Fosters Conversation

Students interacted with the Nook in creative ways, adapting the way they used the Nook. One day a group of students pulled a table up to the end and made the table longer to allow for a larger group to sit together. Another student brought an additional lamp that could change color, depending on the mood of the users. One student suggested that the Nook have a whiteboard installed in it, not knowing that this is one of the more popular ways to customize a Nook.


Nook Impacts For Good

When it comes to interacting with Nooks, people have very real, connected responses. When asked what one word best describes how they feel about their Nook, the students had three words: RETREAT, HUDDLE, AND RENEWK (a word they created combining renew and Nook). Nook has created a area for students where they can retreat for quiet work, gather to tackle tough group projects or simply study with a few friends.


Nook Connects

Students said things like:

“Whoever thought to put this here was a genius!”

“A appreciate having this study area with outlets!”

“We need more of these!”

“Thank you to the person that provided this area!”


Another student said, “…solid construction, nice calming color palette, I’m a fan!”

One student commented on the seating saying, “The seats are the perfect size, roomy enough for our backpacks and bags, but small enough for one person to keep that space to themselves. I love that the texture of the seat cushions continues into the overhead space and connects with the other seat, too.”


Nook is a Holistic Solution

Case Study Challenge:

Students need more workable and quiet workspaces outside of their design studio.


Positive Results:
  1. Students were creative with the way in which they utilized their Nook.
  2. After using their Nook, students decided more Nooks would be beneficial in their workspace.
  3. Nook became more than a workspace, but a preferred destination.

    Nook Take Aways:

  1. Nook provides a space where collaboration can happen that enhances focus and limits distraction.
  2. Nook walls contain conversations and buzz and create the feeling of separation while remaining a part of a larger space.  
  3. Nook seating is comfortable and the structure creates a feeling of shelter that invites users to return.
Some Student Contributions in The Nook Book

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