In more recent times, the key considerations to designing student accommodation have centred around the following needs: privacy, student wellbeing and technology. Gone are the days of the imposing blank canvas, bare walls and where hardwearing almost industrial fabrics were used to withstand the trials and tribulations that would often come hand-in-hand with student life. Particularly the social side.
Pre-quarantine, durability was still an important factor, paired with the need to create a home-from-home feel that is community-centred. To balance this, a private space that is light and airy; the student’s individual sanctuary, providing a respite from the hubbub of campus life and an environment for relaxation or studying, had quickly become the new standard in Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA).
Yet, the uncertainty that this ‘new normal’ has presented has raised new challenges. As the ‘pause button’ has been pressed on the world and we scramble to understand how best to manage COVID-19, whilst preparing for the after effects, it raises the question, how will this sector, a sector that has traditionally been built on communal living and where socialising and nights out in bustling bars and packed, sweaty clubs are a given, be affected? Where we once had shared spaces, we now have social distancing, vocabulary that reinforces new values that are polar opposite from a mindset that ruled a mere six months ago. Whilst the answer is still unknown, there are a few things that we do know, or we can at least anticipate.
Above image shows LooseLay Longboard French Grey Oak
Never has there been more of a need to focus on wellbeing. Being away from home can be a huge upheaval and if there’s one thing that this pandemic has highlighted is that the need for a community and staying connected to the outside world is still a fundamental part of human nature and will always be a consideration to student living.
Creating playful interiors through bespoke design can help to mirror the university or college’s unique culture whilst promoting an interior that’s cohesive and practical. Use a bespoke flooring pattern to clearly define and zone places dividing areas that promote interaction, separating them from quieter zones for periods of studying or used as an area for relaxation. Our gluedown range allows for total customisation of design, see how this has been achieved in projects like Arlo & Jacobs and Charlton Hall. Or explore our pre-set abstract patterns in our Kaleidoscope and Heritage collection, mixing shapes and colours to create something that is completely unique, as seen in Tool & Gauge (pictured below), a shared kitchen facility in Frome, Somerset.
Above image shows our Heritage Collection
Another key consideration to promoting student wellbeing is noise. Student living can be excessively noisy, and this can affect things like productivity, concentration, sleep, and in the long term, can have a negative impact on personal wellbeing. However, there are some adaptations that can be made to help reduce ambient noise. Acoustic ceilings and wall panels will help to absorb sound whilst a flooring with enhanced acoustic properties can help reduce noise from transferring to the room below. See our recent blog on the true cost of noise and negative impact it can have on personal wellbeing.
Our Korlok range incorporates an acoustic foam backing; a technology that offers effective sound absorption, reducing noise up to 21dB, whilst also omitting the need for separate underlay. Eliminating this need is not only cost-effective but allows for a quick installation. When sites are reopened, the need for PBSA will still be there, yet the pressure for completion will only be increased. Incorporating a product like Korlok makes installation fast, and the locking mechanism of Korlok means that adhesive is not necessary to installation.
The ‘plug and play’ culture of Gen-Z has reinforced the need to ensure accommodation is enabled with smart technology. Fast WiFi and incorporating technology that promotes efficiency, like keyless doors, whilst ensuring the student stays connected, will become more important than ever so providing easy access to ensure the daily running and maintenance of these smart features will be key. The individual panels of our LooseLay (pictured below) wood and stone designs can be lifted to allow access without causing damage and therefore a natural fit to any smart space.
Above image shows Karndean LooseLay Colorado
The hygiene factor has never been more important than right now. Whilst this goes beyond washing your hands and singing ‘happy birthday’ for student design, what is clear is that surfaces that are easy to clean and maintain will be imperative to any student environment in the future. Unlike textile floor coverings, luxury vinyl tiles will not harbour dirt, dust or bacteria, which can easily get trapped or grow within carpet fibres. Real timber or stone are notoriously porous and if things like grouting aren’t sealed correctly it can absorb moisture that can develop into mould. Our planks and tiles not only resist spills but by its nature LVT is a nonporous surface making it easy to clean and maintain.
Weathering the COVID-19 storm has highlighted many things, but one in particular is the ability to adapt. At Karndean, supporting our customers has never been more important than it is right now. During this period of apparent standstill, we can still help you with the planning and decision making for surface choice in preparation for when sites do eventually reopen.