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IE Tower University Campus Gives Peek into the Sustainable Future of Education

Vertical campuses, interactive classrooms, sustainable buildings. Find out how education could look like all around the world, just like IE Tower in Madrid, Spain.

Arielle Busetto

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IE Tower, in North Madrid, is a towering example of the education of the future.

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Have you wondered what the future of university education looks like?

On October 19, guests and reporters at the inauguration of the futuristic IE Tower in Madrid got a glimpse of just that.

The entrepreneurial international institution of IE University inaugurated the third tallest campus in the world. It stands at 180 meters, with 35 floors and 50,000 square meters, and a capacity of up to 6,000 students. 

Sitting in the “Five Towers” business hub in the north of Madrid, it’s a project centered around sustainability, innovation, and efficiency, which reflects the spirit of the university.

The building itself is designed with thought to the efficient use of light, heat, and waste.

It has spaces for technological immersion, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, 64 classrooms with flexible configurations, and 30 unique spaces that encourage interaction, innovation, and creativity. Oh, and it also has open areas to promote social and cultural life. 

To connect education to businesses, the IE Tower includes a Venture Lab to accelerate the creation of startups, a FabLab to develop architecture and design projects, and an auditorium with the capacity to hold  approximately 600 people.

The building joins the ranks of other vertical universities around the world, such as Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower in Tokyo.

Reflecting the commitment to the sustainable development goals, António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, sent a video message recognizing IE Tower as “as a symbol of the towering importance of education in today’s fast-changing world. It will be a home for world-class learning, cutting edge ideas and practical answers to the many challenges facing humanity.”

Diego del Alcázar Benjumea, CEO of IE University, reflecting the times that call more than ever for social entrepreneurship, highlighted the purpose of the academic institution in “promoting positive change through education, innovation and research.”

As Lee Newman, newly-minted Dean of the Business School, told JAPAN Forward on the day, the tower aims to be part of a university that “aims to transform people.”

Martha Thorne, Dean of IE School of Architecture & Design and President of the prestigious Architecture Pritzker Prize, commented:

“This inauguration marks a beginning. The presence of IE University adds a great element of diversity to the city of Madrid and IE Tower will have a positive impact on the character, economy and culture of the area.”

The event marks a landmark in the future of the university, and in fact the occasion was graced by His Majesty the King of Spain, King Felipe VI himself.

More than 600 people attended the inaugural event, including Manuel Castells, Spain’s Minister of Universities, and José Luis Martínez Almeida, Mayor of Madrid.

IE started as a postgraduate business school in 1973, but has since become a full-fledged university. It is well-established in Europe and the global stage. It welcomes students from more than 140 countries, and counts thousands of alumni around the world.

The university counts a strong record of making students employable, and excellent links with businesses to encourage students in gaining practical experiences through their studies.

IE Tower is a key step in welcoming 3,800 students attending courses in Business, Law, Architecture & Design, Global & Public Affairs, and Human Sciences & Technology programs.

In a world which is still reckoning with COVID-19 and wrestling with social problems, IE Tower can give inspiration to institutions everywhere on how education can be a catalyst for positive change.

Personally, I was really taken by the location, and the atmosphere of innovation. The large glass windows everywhere letting the light in, the communal spaces with students chatting, or scribbling away sharing ideas on glass whiteboards and touch screens. Visiting the building made me ache to study at university again. IE is doing something right. 

Author: Arielle Busetto

Arielle Busetto is full-time reporter at JAPAN Forward, covering culture, technology, politics, health, among other things. Major assignments in the past included the national elections in Japan, the G20 in Osaka in 2019, COP26 in Glasgow, gathering experience on a range of media including podcasts, video and more.