Design from the inside out – with Chapman Taylor
Good design is user-centric so we need to first understand students’ priorities:
- Sustainability is high on their agenda.
- Well-being is especially important after a difficult couple of years; comfort, health (mental and physical) and happiness.
- A need for human interaction is paramount, as is the provision of pastoral care.
How do you reflect these priorities in your designs?
We focus on the residents’ experiences, their relationship with the management team and creating a comforting home-from- home environment. Spaces need to be developed to support human interaction and promote good health. To support this, well-designed amenity provision is important. Post-pandemic, once taken for granted spaces, such as study areas and gyms, are now fully appreciated.
We can also create a unique selling proposition (USP) for our buildings by creating accommodation that helps residents support their sustainability goals. This is fundamental.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) credentials are now at the forefront of conversations and influence all aspects of the design process. In addition to the environmental benefits, it is important that the social benefits to the resident, the brand and the customer experience are not overlooked.
A survey carried out by the National Union of Students of the United Kingdom (NUS-UK) in 2018 focused on expectations for sustainable development in universities. The results showed that 81% of students wanted to know more about sustainable development. Students are now starting to look at these factors when choosing their residence.
How is modern technology integrated into the design?
Technology can play a vital part in the success of development if it is well designed and integrated from the outset (often referred to as PropTech). Residents want apps with easy interfaces to manage their day-to-day tasks from accessing the building to reporting maintenance issues.
Done correctly, this can also simplify the management of the building, reducing operational costs and allowing staff to focus more on pastoral care.
Integrated technology can also support the sustainability agenda, particularly with in-use energy consumption. Mobile integration and automation can make it easier for residents to reduce their energy consumption. This can also be linked to data collection and analysis, allowing the management team to better understand how the building is operating.
If you allow residents access to the data, you can start to get them engaged in the process and educate them on how they can reduce their personal energy usage. This helps challenge the mindset of ‘all-inclusive accommodation’ with an unlimited energy supply.
"Designing for PBSA is about creating a vibrant, sustainable community. You need to provide flexible spaces to suit individual student’s needs. It’s important to be adaptable and keep an eye on trends so that your scheme works successfully for students now and in the future.”
Rebecca Ridge, Project Architect, Chapman Taylor
What can we expect in 2022 and beyond?
The pandemic has highlighted the harmonious relationship between well-designed and well-managed accommodation. The relationship with the management team is vital in terms of the pastoral support and sense of security that they can provide, so they need to be visible and accessible.
A lot of the trends we are looking at, for example around well-being and high-quality amenities, were being discussed pre-Covid. The pandemic has brought them into sharp focus and these will continue to be a priority.
The Build-to-Rent market has found success by being user-centric with a focus on customer experience and this is heavily influencing the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector. We must design from the inside out, creating buildings that can provide for the resident's needs whilst supporting the management team in their operations.
PBSA is all about providing a nurturing environment for residents, which caters to their lifestyles and aligns with their core values.