As interior designers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help students achieve deeper levels of engagement in their learning, social involvement, and personal growth on college campuses. While the college campus is a place for discovery, attracting students of all ages and backgrounds to learn, connect and explore, it can also be a place that is competitively charged, socially intimidating and isolating. Campuses need to be welcoming and approachable, supporting the community’s overall well-being in addition to their education. A student’s ability to learn and be receptive to growth can be rooted in their sense of comfort in their physical environment. We cannot reach our fullest potential if we do not feel like or bring our best selves with us. While every college requires a personalized solution, we’ve identified three design elements that have an overwhelming benefit to student well-being and success:
- Transitional spaces
- Restorative qualities
- Healthier materials
It’s not just the classrooms that fuel the student experience, the journey is as important as the destination. Transitional spaces connect destinations, supporting secondary activities and students with neurodiverse needs. Those “in between” spaces – touch down areas, breakout spaces and informal seating niches – are equally important in allowing students to pause between movements, collect their thoughts or simply breathe.
UMASS Amherst | Student Union Renovation
Just as campus cultures vary, restoration can be defined in a variety of ways by individual communities. While connection to nature and natural daylight are common desires, some times restoration is achieved through reflection and prayer, other times through play or creative pursuits. Spaces designed to recharge allow students, faculty, and staff to stay engaged in their college community and connect with each other around non-academic interests.
University of New England | University Commons
The interior environment impacts our health, wellbeing, and cognitive performance. As part of sustainable goals, we identify healthier interior material and furniture requirements that will provide physical and psychological benefits for students and staff. Avoiding chemicals of concern in our interior finishes and furniture improves indoor air quality and reduces physical exposure to building occupants. Furthermore, biophilic design connects people and the natural world, creating impactful ways to nurture the mind and soul. This includes exposure to views of nature, natural daylight, as well as organic inspired color palettes and elements. Textured materials, such as wood, stone, perforated metal, and fabrics, bring a richness to the interior environment.