Campus design trends: the HE learning environment

From versatile learning spaces to home comforts, we identify four campus design must-haves for today's students

Does your campus have the spaces people need to get their work done? When designing higher education spaces, this question needs to be addressed in terms of both students and staff.

Attracting and retaining the best employees and top students means investing in the spaces they’ll be using every day. There are a number of key trends influencing HE design, to meet the changing needs of both staff and students alike.

Sound-absorbing work/study pods at the LSE Life library in London

Modern, flexible spaces

Modern, flexible spaces are one of the prerequisites for HE today, and while some people thrive in bustling, open-plan spaces, others like a quiet space to get things done.

University of the Arts London (UAL) took modern to heart with the refurbishment of its Camberwell campus, with sleek concrete and collaborative furniture, creating a modern flexible space. Meanwhile, the LSE Life library has sound-absorbing work/study pods for staff and students to use. The duality such spaces offer is what students and staff need to succeed.

Homely features at King’s College London’s Strand Campus

Homely features

There has been a big move in providing a home-from-home experience for students, to help them transition to university life and aid positive mental wellbeing. Kings College London includes home comforts of soft furnishings and casual spaces in its Strand campus project.

A modern refurbishment of the Northumbria University library

Sustainable education spaces

Research from fit-out contractor Overbury reveals there is an increasing demand from students for sustainable educational spaces with minimal environmental impact. The majority of students surveyed have an interest in the environmental credentials of the university they attend, making credentials like SKA for Higher Education (SKA HE) all the more relevant in today’s HE spaces. University College London achieved the first SKA HE gold accreditation with the help of Overbury and Rider Levett Bucknall.

High-spec, speciality area at the University of Warwick School of Engineering

Specialist spaces

Enabling students to work individually and collaboratively is key. University of Warwick’s School of Engineering features high-spec laboratories for students, with additional social spaces.

Creating such spaces may seem daunting, but a refurb may be the answer and quicker than you might think. Northumbria University, for example, refreshed its library in just seven weeks, while maintaining access throughout the fit-out.

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