How does Place Making add to the University experience?

University estates continue to expand while the demands of students and parents are rising alongside tuition fees. We looked at the increasingly common investment in “place making” and how creating a community can benefit both the university and the student experience.

Expectations surrounding the type and breadth of facilities that universities need to provide has shifted in recent years; potentially due to increasing tuition fees and the resulting financial burden that parents and students have to weigh-up and compare with other options such as apprenticeships.

Designing a university campus is now as much about creating a small scale community as it is developing a functional environment that will cater to work, rest, and play. A number of factors have arguably contributed to this; firstly, an increase in the number of mature and international students who have different expectations to recent sixth-form or college graduates. With the development of colleges specifically for international students, it’s logical that parents want added reassurances around the quality of accommodation and the lifestyle that their child will enjoy.

Secondly, with limited inner city options, campuses are growing or relocating away from central locations, offering more space for development and therefore producing a need for unconventional amenities that students will otherwise have to travel for such as supermarkets and gyms.

This is quite clearly reflected in the evolution of the Student Union. Once purely a destination for a Friday night get-together or a quick snack between lectures, they are becoming central to a campus design and an essential part of the student lifestyle, especially with a population that is increasingly diverse in terms of age, background, and culture. This is all part and parcel of encouraging students to become proactive in the campus community, making them comfortable enough to maximise their time both for social and educational reasons.