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Student housing

Student Housing: the new student accommodation

Discover what student housing is: accommodation that goes beyond the dormitory, contributing to urban development and offering shared spaces

Student accommodations are not just a place to sleep; they are the foundation upon which to build your academic success. The connection between living environment and academic performance is often underestimated but crucial.

Let’s begin by understanding what student housing is and which architectural design software to leverage for managing the construction of these facilities.

Student housing as an element to improve students' lives

Student housing as an element to improve students’ lives

What Is Student Housing

Student housing, or accommodations designed specifically for students, typically university students, offer living solutions that go beyond merely providing a roof overhead. They create an environment that supports academic success and fosters personal growth.

Types of Accommodations

There are several types of student accommodations, but we’ll focus on 2:

University Residences

University residences represent one of the more traditional options for student housing. Often owned directly by the higher education institution or affiliated with it, their strategic location near the campus makes them convenient for students. These facilities are designed to create a community environment, encouraging student interaction. They also offer a diverse range of amenities, from study halls to recreational spaces and additional services, including fast internet connectivity and laundry rooms. The convenience of having academic facilities close at hand and the opportunity to participate in organized events and activities make university residences a popular choice, especially for freshmen.

Student Apartments and Houses

Student apartments and houses provide a more independent alternative. They can be seen as different solutions within the same housing category. Usually managed by private entities, they can consist of independent housing units or shared spaces for multiple students. The offered flexibility translates into greater autonomy and the ability to personalize the living experience. Students seeking more privacy and preferring a more independent lifestyle often opt for this choice. These solutions involve renting structures that may vary in size and amenities.

Functional Environments in Student Housing

The effectiveness of student housing relies on space organization that promotes both individuality and sociability while maintaining high standards of environmental sustainability and integrating modern technologies. Respecting the definitions provided by the decree, let’s analyze the different functional areas envisaged in student housing projects.

Essential Functional Areas

The indispensable functional areas in student housing include:

  • Residence – space dedicated to students’ private life, with a careful distribution between private and semi-private areas;
  • Services – common areas and collective services, such as study rooms, recreational areas, shared kitchens, and connectivity spaces, fostering social interaction;
  • Connective Environments – meeting and socializing points, both within the residence and in shared services, promoting community cohesion.

Key Requirements in Design

When designing a building for students, other crucial aspects impacting space organization and the entire building should also be considered:

  • Environmental Compatibility – A precise site characterization, accounting for climate, renewable energy sources, and natural light, is fundamental. Prioritizing the use of low-impact environmental materials is crucial;
  • Urban Integration – The location of student housing should ensure access to essential services, harmoniously integrating into the city context and facilitating connectivity with university campuses;
  • Balance Between Individuality and Sociability – Design should balance private and collective spaces to meet individual needs while fostering social interaction.
Student Housing Well Connected with Schools and Universities

Student Housing Well Connected with Schools and Universities

Information Technology and Multimedia

Student accommodations must maximize the use of information technology and multimedia. Efficient cabling and data connectivity services facilitate modern and efficient residence management.

Environmental Orientation and Universal Usability

Spaces should be easily identifiable and accessible, considering users’ diverse physical, sensory, and perceptual abilities.

Optimal Maintenance and Management

The design aims to maximize material and component maintainability, durability, and replaceability, optimizing the overall intervention cost.

What Are the Benefits of Student Housing?

Student Housing, an evolution from the traditional concept of student accommodation, brings significant benefits to both students and the surrounding area. Its innovative, future-oriented nature has positive impacts on various levels:
Territory Enhancement – Housing is no longer peripheral but an integral part of the urban fabric. University residences contribute to territory development, stimulating the creation of new infrastructures like museums, restaurants, shops, and offices.

Economic and Cultural Contribution – Living spaces are no longer conceived as impersonal dormitories but as elements that bring economic and cultural value to the area. New trends promote sharing and collaboration, creating a stimulating environment for both personal and collective growth.

Adaptation to New Lifestyles – After the pandemic, the ways homes are used have changed. Student Housing adapts to new models of autonomy and collaboration, offering dedicated spaces for remote work and leisure. This flexibility caters to students seeking a balance between study, work, and social life.

Sharing and Collaboration – New trends in Student Housing focus on offering common spaces and services that promote sharing and collaboration among students. These properties become hybrid places where independent study integrates with urban life, fostering the creation of knowledge networks and relationships.

Innovation in Student Hospitality – Concepts like the student hotel are evolving, offering students comfortable rooms and advanced services, combining the convenience and privacy of private accommodation with the community atmosphere typical of metropolitan hostels. This innovative format redefines how students live and interact with their living environment.

Designing Student Housing

To design buildings accommodating students, using the right tools that provide a comprehensive view of things in a simple and efficient manner is necessary. Let’s explore some examples of realizations that have considered the previously expressed needs and utilized advanced design software to achieve the best design results.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology | Student Accommodation Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and Leigh & Orange

This modern residence is renowned for its rooftop walkway, representing the main circulation area. The sloping site is used so that students can reach the academic blocks from their house without the need to cross the hilly terrain.

The roof offers large outdoor areas for student and staff socialization, contributing to a rich university culture. There are three types of accommodations that can host up to 18-36 students, offering them a sense of community and responsibility.

Spaces for Socialization along the Path on the Roof

Spaces for Socialization along the Path on the Roof

The Deacon

The Deacon, a private student residence located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of the most luxurious modern houses, boasting a pool, covered parking, lounge area, game room, golf simulator, music room, theater, private and group study areas, and conference rooms.

The interiors create a friendly and secure environment for students. Each room features a bathtub-equipped bathroom, and some offer walk-in closets. The fitness center is extensively designed with dedicated areas for specific types of training.

Private Student Residence in Cincinnati, Ohio

Private Student Residence in Cincinnati, Ohio

St. Andrew’s Student Accommodation | Student Residences

St. Andrew’s College in Gurgaon has two student residential buildings, one for boys and the other for girls, designed according to the local climate and following vernacular architectural style. The vertical and inclined columns support the two upper floors and form a double-height summer transition space below. External thermal walls allow fresh air and diffused light into each room, reducing direct radiation by 70%.

The color palette used in the interiors complements the building’s envelope colors. 1-inch diameter steel rods and customized bricks with holes made it possible to construct a jaali wall without mortar, thanks to the use of various software.

Residential Building for Female Students - St. Andrew's College in Gurgaon

Residential Building for Female Students – St. Andrew’s College in Gurgaon

To create structures accommodating student housing, in-depth studies on the architectural composition of spaces are necessary, as well as integrations between architectural, structural, plant, and climatic aspects. Therefore, it is important to use appropriate design technologies such as BIM, real-time rendering, immersive virtual reality. So, I invite you to watch this video showing how to use 3D BIM architectural design software.