At the end of the last year The Property Marketing Strategists [TPMS] in collaboration with UPP conducted intensive research on what Gen Z wants from their student accommodation. The survey included future students, current students and graduates, and the results were divided into two categories: UK students and overseas students. The survey covered various topics such as affordability, wellbeing, community, sustainability, and technology.
As designers, we like to think ahead, align with the end users and respond to their needs even before they get apparent. So we have picked the most relevant points and brainstormed how to address them while bringing value to both the operators and the students. We will discuss our ideas over a series of 5 mini blog posts which will be published from today and for the next few weeks once a week.
48% of undergraduates prefer to live with 3-4 flatmates
For this blog post, we will be focusing on the topic of community living and privacy. Currently, most of the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) operators offer independent studios or cluster units with Living Kitchen Dining (LKD) facilities for every 4-12 beds. This arrangement has been tested and proven successful, with slight variations depending on location and target group. However, the survey shows that 48% of undergraduates prefer to live with 3-4 flatmates. Therefore, as designers, we must look at ways to respond to these results and provide a semi-private living space for every four cluster units.
In practice, this means creating a "flat-like" solution within a building. This arrangement is less efficient from a development point of view as the more people share one kitchen, the more economical the PBSA is. Generally, the LKD rooms are sized with a set amount of square meters per student but they need to be a minimum size to be usable; it appears that 6-8 people LKDs is a sweet spot that maximises appliances efficiency as well as room space. By designing communal kitchens for 3-4 people we would "over provide" square meters of communal space. But we believe that this loss can be offset by reducing less desirable amenities or inviting the public to use some communal spaces that would generate additional income for the operators. Privacy is to be considered as well as how social interactions within a community would be affected.
Therefore, our idea is to look at the total provision of communal areas in the building (amenities & LKDs) and redistribute some space from the amenities to the LKDs. As independent research, we conducted a test fit for this option (still in development), and while the results are not straightforward, we are still working on finding the perfect ratio between private and communal spaces. More to follow!
At A Designer at Heart, we are committed to our research and we believe that designers must respond to the evolving needs of Gen Z and ensure that the spaces we design align with their preferences. By creating semi-private living spaces, we can enhance community living while maintaining privacy. This is the first post of a series that will address different topics from the survey, and we look forward to sharing more insights with you.
Fancy five more minutes of extra reading? Check our previous articles on how to design the perfect LKD and the communal lounge!