Designing a Campus for College students and their Wellbeing. Half 2 – Communal Areas


brainybirdz are typically commissioned to put in writing articles and blogs for different organisations. It is a re-post of a weblog written for Milliken earlier this month, the place we argue for a distinct method in direction of campus design.

In our final weblog put up we mentioned lecture theatres and the necessity to rethink the spatial design of campuses to supply settings suited to pupil wants, but in addition to evolving pedagogy and educating supply. However it’s not simply the constraint brought on by lecture theatres which may influence pupil studying and wellbeing on campus. The subject we flip to at present is the design of communal areas to host quite a lot of pupil actions.

College buildings have been redesigned over the past many years very a lot with the coed expertise in thoughts. Examples embrace the brand new Scholar Centre at UCL, designed by Nicholas Hare architects, or the Scholar Centre below development for Queens College Belfast, designed by HawkinsBrown. What these buildings reply to is an growing demand for communal areas for college students, bringing collectively pupil companies with areas for college students to take a seat, learn, work and chat.

The UCL Scholar Centre, designed by Nicholas Hare (picture: Kerstin Sailer)

Covid has accelerated the necessity for such areas, particularly for areas the place college students can interact in on-line conversations and dial into on-line lectures. Universities usually supply pupil workspaces in open plan communal areas, both in foyers or atria, or in cafes on campus. These are nice for socialising, assembly others, and presumably additionally for group work, relying on their detailed design and character. Alternatively, libraries supply quiet area for focus and solitary work. What is usually lacking are areas the place people or small teams can interact in personal conversations.

Within the autumn time period of 2020, many universities aimed toward providing a mixture of face-to-face educating the place potential, mixed with on-line supply. Even the place amenities for the small group seminars have been made obtainable the numbers of scholars taking over the face-to-face possibility has, in apply, been surprisingly low.

We needed to search out out why, so polled various college students who had the choice of attending face-to-face small group seminars on campus however elected to go surfing. What we found was that the bodily constraints have been enjoying a task on this determination. On this case it was communal areas away from the lecture theatres that have been questioned.

In addition to the seminar, for which the coed has the selection to go to campus, a typical day may also embrace a spread of on-line actions equivalent to synchronous lectures, group work, on-line dialogue teams and seminars for different modules. Outdoors of those on-line actions the scholars could want to write an task or have some downtime to socialize. These actions require areas with quite a lot of attributes. The synchronous lecture and task writing would require an area of focus with acceptable connectivity and energy sources. The group work and seminars could require areas the place the coed is not going to be disturbed and won’t disturb others after they converse.

The suggestions we obtained was the provision of areas with the range demanded by the brand new methods of studying was an issue. Areas the place college students wouldn’t disturb others when taking part in on-line conversations are comparatively uncommon. The scholars talked in regards to the thought of getting single particular person ‘pods’ the place they didn’t must be self-conscious about being overheard by others. Nonetheless, at present the areas obtainable have been designed for face-to-face collaboration fairly than the sound privateness the scholars sought.

The fact is that few of the scholars we spoke to had the will or frankly the abilities wanted to timetable their actions days upfront and guide campus areas accordingly.

The inefficiency of travelling to campus for a single, one hour, face-to-face after which having to journey again to their lodging to proceed their research postpone a lot of the college students we spoke to. We expect that these bodily constraints are enjoying a major function within the low campus presence and we consider this to have antagonistic penalties for well being and wellbeing. College students miss the contemporary air and train of a stroll onto campus they usually miss alternatives to socially work together (at a distance) with college students aside from these of their lodging. Being cooped up in pupil lodging shouldn’t be wholesome nor conducive to wellbeing however it’s potential that rigid campus areas designed for a pre-covid period are contributing to this example.

On this brief collection of two weblog posts we’ve got explored some points referring to the design of college estates based mostly on extra common developments in training, but in addition extra lately, the teachings learnt from Covid restrictions. Universities have for a while been pursuing an inclusion agenda that seeks to draw as numerous a cohort of scholars as potential. The unplanned interval of experimentation pressured on us by a worldwide pandemic has pointed to studying and educating approaches that actually enhance inclusion and out of necessity have been adopted quickly. Nonetheless, it’s our perception that for these practices to outlive past the present Covid restrictions the bodily design of our college estates might want to catch up.


This was half two of a weblog collection on Campus Design and Scholar Wellbeing. Learn half one on lecture theatres right here.

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