8 Jul, 2019 | Written by Premis

Designing University Campuses as Social Spaces

For young students, a university should be an exciting and stimulating place, both academically and socially. Accordingly, there’s always been a need for social as well as learning spaces on campus.

But while universities have long offered lecture halls and rec clubs, the transition to digital across our personal and professional lives is also affecting educational institutions.

Student expectations have altered and they now want far more from the educational experience than a degree.

Let's take a look at two key ways a university refurbishment can cater to the growing need for social spaces in the digital world.

Introducing the Sticky Campus Design

The availability of learning and assessment materials online means today’s students have a different experience to those studying 15 or even 10 years ago. Universities no longer offer digital resources as an alternative – digital materials are now the standard.

This means there’s less incentive for students to attend campus in person. In response, universities are refurbishing campus facilities to encourage all-important face-to-face interaction. This is known as creating a ‘sticky’ campus, one that students enjoy remaining at outside their formal lecture timetables.

Traditionally, universities prompted the growth of satellite amenities – cafes, bookshops, performance spaces, eateries – that were separate from campus.

Sticky campuses are increasingly bringing these satellite amenities back into the university’s domain. Campuses become places where students’ academic and social lives meet, the one flowing into the other.

Traditional teaching spaces are also being modified to encourage students to attend classes in person, transforming into interactive multi-purpose learning environments - like these inter-campus flipped classrooms constructed by Premis at Griffith University.

The Concept of Universities as Cities

Starting in the 1990s, the opportunity for personal expression enabled by the internet has changed the way young people think of themselves. No longer passive consumers of education, they also want to shape the institutions they are attending. Campuses exist to foster networks of friendships, digital and physical markets for the exchange of social and intellectual capital.

To enhance this immersive concept of learning, university designs are adding residences, dining and even retail experiences. This is the case at Monash University’s Clayton campus, 20km south-east of the Melbourne CBD. Its 2011-2030 Masterplan aims to transform the campus into what it calls a “University City”. It will create four new “hubs of collaboration” and add extensive green space and additional accommodation.

Griffith University is also responding to the desire for campus "cities", opening a purpose-built retail precinct. Delivered by Premis under a construction management contract, the precinct offers students a number of food and shopping options. 

Offering spaces that blur the boundaries between students’ academic and social lives has become a key goal of academic institutions. Contact Premis to discuss your university refurbishment project.

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