The Private Dining Room (or PDR) is a staple among the amenities offered in PBSAs today. It can be equipped for a number of different use cases. The most common is for the students to book and have small parties, or evening to spend in group cooking with friends and classmates. But how important it really is to students? And can it become more to enrich the student accommodation experience?
A 2021 report by Knight Frank, in a survey among students, classified a series of services and amenities in PBSA according to the percentage of students that deemed them as ‘important’ or ‘very important’.
In second place, behind only the need for ‘Organised groups or clubs to reduce loneliness and isolation’ with 82%, there is with 79% the importance of ‘Good quality communal or social space to improve interaction within halls’. So, once again the most important value proposition of a student accommodation seems to be its capacity of “delivering the human elements and creating communities. Nurturing environments that enable students to build relationships and combat loneliness”.
A second survey reports that 35% of the students would be willing to pay more for a student accommodation with better communal kitchen/dining facilities. The results set this amenity in the top half of the choices picked by the students as the most important. An in our opinion highlights how a properly designed PDR can be really relevant for students and improve their experience.
Fundamentals and functions
Three are the most important elements that a PDR should always include to properly fulfil its basic functions.
The first is the equipment. Naturally, students must have the necessary items and appliances to be able to arrange a complete meal for themselves and their friends. Appliances should ideally have an A energy rating and include fridge, freezer, hobs with extractor, oven, and microwave or a combination of the two, a big sink, and a dishwasher (not having a dishwasher might become an operational cost in case the PBSA staff has to clean up after the students).
The kitchen may also include an aisle. Whether with or without equipment, an island immediately gives a convivial look as it’s typical of residential open spaces with big kitchens. Building the hobs in it is also a good solution for cooking classes and adds more flexibility in general to the room.
Another thing that can not miss in a PDR is a large dining table. Usually, something that can host between 8 and 12 people. Here too there is a relatively easy opportunity to make the room more flexible adding to its ‘regular’ use case. Adding some acoustic elements for separation from the kitchen section, and more plugs can turn the dining table in a meeting area making the PDR not only more usable for group study and similar activities, but also a good space to use even during the day, and not just in the evening.
Last but not least, the third element to consider is the lounge area with a TV (which preferably should also be visible to everyone while sitting at the dining table). The PDR should include one lounge seating spot for every person considered in the dining area.
Some design tips
As far as design goes, I would like to start with lighting. Regardless of the direction that a designer might take for the PDR styling, lighting has to be functionally appropriate. It has to be suitable for cooking first of all, so task lighting in specific spots dedicated to preparation is the most important and they have to be well lit. LED strips are also a good integration to pendants.
To know more about lighting you can check our 2-part guide about Lighting Layers
The other aspect regarding lighting, along with the functional one is an aesthetic one. The PDR has to feel convivial and homely, and warm accent lighting accurately placed can make a huge difference.
Another factor that contributes positively to the overall feeling of the room is the use of the right soft furnishing. Light colours should be mostly avoided as here there is a high risk of incurring in stains from dining or food preparations. Luckily though, there are also great alternatives to cheap materials like faux leather.
There are several options for fabric materials that are stain-resistant, anti-bacterial, and easy to clean (i.e. Aqua Clean Technology). One great example is this antiviral upholstery from Sunbury Design.
To further improve the PDR’s look and make it feel more refined, it is worth dedicating a small part of the budget to some nicer accessories, especially considering that students will only access it by booking it. This means that if any specific item went missing, it would still be easy to track it down. So, complementing the interior with nice rugs, prints, plants, vases, table lamps and more will surely improve the overall look of a PDR making it more enjoyable.
Finally, on the same theme, a while back we talked about how technology changed and is changing PBSA design, and naturally, there are some more techy additions one can think about for a PDR to make the whole experience more enjoyable. A Bluetooth speaker is a nice idea to give students an easy option to put on their favourite playlist while spending time with friends.
So, here are our tips for a perfect PDR. Did you know them all and do you have any more suggestions to share?
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