The University of Hong Kong – Blended Learning Laboratory


The University of Hong Kong (HKU), a leading international institution of higher learning in Asia, strives to attract and nurture outstanding scholars from around the world though excellence and innovation in teaching and learning, research and knowledge exchange.

As part of an initiative for the development of active learning laboratories and blended learning classrooms at HKU, Toni Kelly, Associate Director of Learning Environments at HKU was tasked with managing and delivering this refurbishment project. Prior to Toni’s role at HKU, she was responsible for the redevelopment of new and existing learning spaces at the University of Birmingham. This is where Toni originally identified Dalen’s products.

The Brief

Toni approached Dalen to discuss the blended learning classroom concept that required flexible, multi-purpose furniture that could integrate AV and IT equipment. It was made clear during the discussion that the space should be aspirational to motivate students and reflect HKU’s high standard of teaching and learning practices.

The classroom would have to accommodate 80 students and be easily reconfigured to facilitate different activities, ranging from technology rich learning environments with PCs and large displays, to non-ICT related tasks. It was specified that the desks had to be tamperproof, easy to use and durable enough to withstand the daily use of students. There was also a requirement for a mast to be attached to each table to mount a screen for presentations or group work.

The Solution

Having worked with Dalen on previous projects, Toni Kelly was keen to employ the company’s expertise in design and space planning, alongside their ability to create solutions tailored to customer requirements.

To maximise the use of the space and fulfill the need to accommodate up to 80 students in the classroom, Dalen provided various room plans and renders demonstrating the room’s potential.

Dalen proposed an integrated suite of Forum Teamwork Desks that are designed with flexible collaboration in mind.

Forum Desks can be customised to suit the number of participants and provides a multipurpose solution that easily converts from a writing desk to an ICT workstation at the pull of a lever. A discrete panel is built into the worktop to create a complete work surface, which reveals a screen, keyboard and mouse. When out of use, all ICT equipment is stored in the compartments.

Dalen provided full cable management with a cable channel going through the desk leg and out to a power box in the floor, which kept all cables contained. A key aspect of the proposal was to satisfy the need for presentation screens that would be attached to each desk in the future. Dalen designed a bespoke mast fit for this very purpose.

The Result

The Blended Learning Lab was fitted with a total of 12 Forum Teamwork Desks split by 8 x 8-seater desks and 4 x 4-seater desks.

We also provided an Explorer Lectern to house the AV/IT equipment to connect the display systems, whilst providing a presenter station for the lecturer. The next phase of this project implemented a system that enables lecturers to control what is displayed on all 80 screens from the Explorer lectern.

This is our first large export to the Far East and the project has proven to be a great success with HKU using the space to full effect to meet the needs of supporting Blended Learning.