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Space Allocation Guidelines

Category Property Services
Type Guideline
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 28 November 2016
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 December 2016
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible Officer Strategic Space Planner
Review Date 1 December 2018


To provide information to relevant staff, when planning new or reconfigured space, or assessing their existing space. The guidelines have been designed in accordance with the Campus Master Plan Volume 2, and the Strategic Direction to 2020, to ensure that the allocation of space is equitable, consistent, fair, and transparent.

Organisational Scope

These guidelines apply university-wide.

Policy Content

1. Space Management

The University of Otago manages space planning and has developed guidelines where flexibility and quality of the space provided work towards meeting current and future needs. Space efficiency reduces building costs, in terms of both capital and operating expenditure.

The University’s Planning and Space Committee is ultimately responsible for allocating space and it is administered by the Property Services Division. University groups and departments must not vacate space, or occupy additional space without the consent of the Planning and Space Committee.

Property Management Unit maintains a database of occupancy of all University building spaces, and uses this as a basis for allocating space and for charging internal rent. It is important that the Property Management Unit is advised of all changes in use and occupancy in order to maintain this important management tool.
Given the varied building portfolio it may not be always be possible to utilise space to its theoretical maximum. Sensible and pragmatic agreements need to be made in such cases, and agreed formally in writing with the Planning and Space Management Committee.

2. Types of University Space

a) Offices

The University prides itself on its:

  • collegial nature by encouraging collaboration and cross fertilization; and
  • high quality independent professionalism and research outputs.

The workplace model developed in the Campus Master Plan is designed to support these two activities. It is focused on supporting individual work, which is predominately concentrated in nature, whilst responding to drivers to increase knowledge sharing by providing more collaborative informal spaces.

Figure one
Figure 1 Model 1 ‘Studies’. Source: Master Plan Working Papers July 2010

The concept is one of small private work rooms to support individual focused work with a central zone used for informal and social interaction, meeting space and common facilities. The model is good for supporting individual concentrated work and high levels of privacy. The central space increases informal and social interaction and is intended to help support knowledge sharing.

This model should be adopted as the standard approach when designing office space. However, where there is a priority for a team to work closely together, shared offices spaces including open plan can be considered.

b) Office Allocation

The University acknowledges its obligation to provide safe and healthy working conditions for its staff. The University will maintain flexibility in planning for current and future space needs and retain the ability to modify its space to satisfy those needs.  Space will be managed and allocated in alignment with industry benchmarks for space utilisation and functionality, with a view to achieving best practice.

c) Single Occupancy Offices

For all staff, offices will (in general) not exceed 10m2 without prior agreement. It is intended that all offices will be supported by access to nearby meeting spaces. Senior staff will not necessarily be allocated single offices with meeting spaces. Part time staff will not necessarily be allocated a single office. All staff are allocated one desk. If duties mean staff spend time in multiple locations hot desks (or bookable offices/meeting spaces) will provide a short stay option. Research office locations will be designed, where practical, near to research labs, and PG study areas. Illustrative layouts are shown over page.

Office Environment Space per person                                                                      
Single office with meeting space for 4-5 people 20.5m2

Meeting 4-5

Single office with meeting space for 2-3 people 13.5m2                                                                           

 Meeting 2-3

Single office 10m2          

Meeting 2-3 A

Office Environment
Shared office environment 6.76m2                                 

Shared office

Postgraduate study space 4.5m2                             

Postgraduate space

d) Reception Areas

Will be customer-focused. They will normally include some form of staffed area and will have space adjacent for a range of support requirements; from copy and hand-in facilities, to PC access. This will be related to need and location. The desks should be easily maintainable, secure, well-ventilated and readily accessible, for staff and students.

e) Meeting/Committee Rooms

Will function as both formal and informal areas and will be made available to all building users. Dependent on occupation levels there may be only one Committee Room per building. All staff will be granted access to a meeting room not necessarily in their building but in close proximity.

f) Staff Rooms

Will function as staff break-out areas and informal meeting spaces and will be accessible for all building occupants.

g) Teaching Spaces

Formal learning spaces are one of the most visible components of campus life. Formal learning spaces have relatively straightforward requirements; line of sight, good acoustics, technology enabled and a focal point/s at the front of the room. When designing the teaching space it is important to understand what type of learning is being fostered and support this with the appropriate workplace allocation.

The Campus Master Plan provides suggested layouts that are designed to support each learning type (Chapter 7, Teaching and Learning Space Menu). In summary the workplace allocation is as follows:

Space Type                                                              

UoO Guidelines
NUA m2 per workplace

Lecture Theatre - raked seating 1.7 - 1.8
Lecture Theatre/Seminar/Tutorial/Class Room 2.2 - 3.25
Case Study Room 2.25
Learning Studio 4.5
Small Scale Vocational (language lab,computer lab,multi-media studio) 2.8 - 4.5
Laboratory - scientific/medical/engineering/WET/DRY/PC1/PC2/PC3/PC4 3.2 - 7.5
Medium Scale Vocational (audio visual,clinical, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy 5.0
Large Scale Vocational (gyms,dance/music studios and practice rooms) 6.5
Large Scale Vocational Operating Theatre (inc PC2) 6.5
Extra Large Vocational (recording studio, metal work studio, dental clinic) 7.5 - 8.5

h) Social and Informal Learning Spaces

Students spend a large proportion of their time outside of the class. Students and Divisions value time spent with peers discussing academic work or other topics. The emergence of Student Hubs is another example of how ‘out-of-class’ time is being enriched with learning opportunities. Creating spaces for spontaneous discussion is particularly important. These ‘think-stops’ should be included within every remodeling and capital project.

The spaces should be flexible, and allow regular reorganisation of the layout. They can be located in rooms, or within circulation space. There should be a variety of furniture types, to allow flexible working. The Campus Master Plan provides suggested layouts that are designed to support a variety of informal learning (Chapter 7, Teaching and Learning Space Menu).

Consultation with the ITS Division on the provision of equipment and facilities is essential, before planning these spaces. Traditional catering, and Library spaces, could also provide this type of learning space.

Space Type Furniture UoO Guidelines
NUA m2
Informal meeting Loose furniture 2.8 - 4.5
Open study and break out Combination of fixed and loose 3.2 - 7.5
Informal learning space Loose, casual 5.0
Quiet booth Fixed 6.5

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact Murray Brass