Space, Like Time, Is Money: Evaluating Space Utilisation in Saudi Arabian Universities
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The demand for tertiary education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been increasing. As a result, the Kingdom is expanding its higher education sector, through which twenty public universities were established. The establishment of these institutions has led to the building of campuses in order to provide enough space for teaching, learning, training, and research. However, the United Nations long-term projections of the Kingdom forecast that there will be a sharp decline in the youth population. The consequences of these projections pose a problem to long-term strategic planning for space at university campuses. To ensure a match between supply and demand for space, this paper investigates the provision and utilisation of space in Saudi Arabian university campuses. Operating the physical plant sustainably by identifying and eliminating underutilised space not only saves energy and funds, but also improves the student and staff satisfaction by creating a good balance between space needs and space provision. The ultimate aim of this paper is to highlight how space use is measured, what the utilisation rate of existing premises is, and how space can be effectively and efficiently operated. Data was collected through two instruments: the first and predominant instrument was the examination of the space utilisation of five college buildings in five different universities; four buildings were from recently founded universities, while one building was from a well-established university. The second instrument employed was a questionnaire in which one thousand two hundred and ninety users including students, faculty members, and supporting staff were asked about their experience of space use. Findings show that almost all spaces in college buildings, in both new and old institutions, were not utilised as they should be. The paper ends with some recommendations to improve space planning and to optimise space use.
KeywordsSpace utilisation University campus Space planning Facility management Saudi Arabia
The author would like to thank Professor Hans de Jonge, Dr Alexandra den Heijer, and Bart Valks—from the Department of Management in the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands—for their input in developing this research.
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