The Case for Student Living in Urban Design

Our mixed-use sector includes a number of different knowledge leaders across our three UK studios, each responsible for the research and communication of different building typologies.

Here, Daniel Morgans, an associate director in our London studio provides a brief analysis of ‘Student Living’ and studies the positive aspects of the placement of this typology within urban environments.

The Evolution of Student Living

Student Living provides valuable resource to the Higher Education (HE) institutions it serves and supports students with an alternative living environment to the traditional private rented housing or Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). During the pandemic, requirements for an alternative model with a focus on pastoral care and interaction were accelerated, something that well-managed Student Living can provide. Student Living shares many common themes with both Build-to-Rent (BTR) and Later Living accommodation with a professionally managed service which places emphasis on the resident experience and aspires to supply a life of convenience to its inhabitants. The incorporation of resident-focused communal facilities and a turn-key provision of building services also feature.

The evolution of hybrid online learning has also strengthened the case for a student environment that is digitally integrated, reliable, secure, and provides a range of spaces for academic study, from the individual to the more collaborative.

Allaying Local Concerns

Local residents occasionally have minor concerns around parking, inclusivity, affordability and wider pressures on infrastructure when large developments are introduced to local areas. However, in comparison with other uses within mixed-use communities, the impact of Student Living developments is relatively light. Fewer students have cars than families or office workers and are likely to use fewer local services such as medical centres and schools. Students can also have a positive focus on sustainable living, with a lean towards cycling and walking.

Student Living buildings are well managed with an onsite support team, with codes of conduct that help facilitate a calm and positive environment. Therefore, the buildings are similar in many ways to Build-to-Rent developments with slightly different proportions. This is perhaps in contrast to the ‘lively’ reputation that the sector may have been known for in the past.

Client teams can therefore take confidence from this new model when presenting in public consultations and Planning pre-applications.

A Positive Part of the Mix

Student Living consists of a number of active uses as shown in the diagrams below. These, in certain cases, can be offered to the local community during various times of the day, and contribute to the Community and Social Value score. Student accommodation developments normally contain an active ground floor, with an element of these open to the public and the associated active facades contributing positively to the urban fabric.

The diagram below illustrates a typical city, in this case, Bristol, where Student Living is seamlessly integrated into a wider masterplan. Nearly all of the sites marked above are surrounded by other uses such as retail, offices, leisure and hotels, and the shared benefits of a day and night-time economy can be realised. Our proposed scheme for Avon St Residential sits to the bottom right of the diagram, where further Student Living developments are planned.

Specialising in Residential, Retail, Leisure, Transportation, Hospitality and Workplace design, we are able to blend a number of different sectors into vibrant mixed-use environments for people to enjoy. Please contact Daniel Morgans for more information.

About the Author

Daniel Morgans (BA (Hons) DipArch RIBA)

Associate Director, UK

Daniel joined Chapman Taylor in 2017 as an Associate Director and works as a key member of our UK concept design team. A creative and innovative designer, he specialises in turning a client’s vision into a successful project.

Daniel has over 15 years’ experience as an architect in the UK and overseas, eight of these spent working in the luxury residential and hospitality sectors and on a number of sensitive urban and historical sites.

He also has experience in coordinating teams for large-scale mixed-use projects in the Middle East, Europe and CIS.

Areas of Expertise:

Concept Design / Mixed-Use / Luxury Hotels / Hotel Resorts / Residential / Listed and sensitive sites

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