The university building is a place of learning and education, a research and information exchange centre, where knowledge is shared and new ideas are born. Furthermore, it is a place where interpersonal relations are evaluated, personal experiences are broadened and personal responsibilities are encouraged. The portrayal of this creative and complex scene has the unique characteristics of a dynamic social network and is reflected throughout the whole building. In order for the issues that are related to the design of a university building to be considered, we need to recognize and highlight the direct relation that exists between human behavior, communication and educational space.
This thesis contains a study of university buildings as a network of human movement as well as places that encourage the human encounter and communication. Furthermore, since the university as an educational institution is primarily a field for human contact, discussion, exchange of ideas and interaction, this thesis aims to present a comprehensive study of the issues related to architectural design of a university and the crucial role of human communication in its public spaces.
After performing a brief overview of the history of universities from antiquity to the 20th century and the socio-political context in which the institution of university was born, a research follows concerning the choices that an architect makes in regards to the design in order to produce spaces that will accommodate, promote and stimulate this human contact, while a strong connection between the university and the city is created. Specifically, while studying the structure of many modern universities, we often conclude that they are designed similar to a small city with the street and the square acting as a main core for the building. This observation is the main axis on which the analysis of the spatial environment of the university is based.
Starting with the example of the Free Berlin University, a turning point in the design of universities, a series of other examples that fall into this logic of design are presented with an emphasis in public spaces and the circulation system of the buildings.