The student accommodation market is always evolving, and operators need to be agile to keep up with the latest trends and demands. A recent survey conducted by The Property Marketing Strategists and UPP, highlighted interesting feedback from students. In our previous articles of this series, Creating semi-private living spaces and Designing for wellness, we respectively discussed how Gen Z students want affordable and community-oriented accommodation and we offered practical examples of how interior design can support a wellbeing strategy in PBSA buildings.
Today we investigate students' desire for movie nights, as emerged from the survey, and at the same time their unwillingness to pay extra for a cinema room. This presents a challenge for operators, but also an opportunity to think creatively and provide flexible spaces that can meet a variety of needs.
The survey results showed that students are interested in communal activities like movie nights, but they are not willing to pay extra for the TVs. This might seem like a contradiction, but it actually presents an opportunity for operators to be more flexible with their spaces. One solution could be to have a multi-purpose room that can be used for different activities, such as yoga or meditation during the day and movie nights in the evening. This way, the space is being utilized to its fullest potential, without the need for a dedicated cinema room.
Flexibility is key when it comes to designing student accommodation. By creating spaces that can be easily adapted to different uses, operators can provide a more versatile and dynamic living environment. For example, when approaching this topic we like to take inspiration from Japanese architecture where a temporary change of the floor finish could create distinct zones within a space and be used to adjust it throughout the day. It could be as simple as a futon-style modular sofa or thrown pillow which are easy to store or move around quickly.
In our West Hampstead project, we used the Ambient Lounge Butterfly Sofas to achieve this flexibility (the product is ideal for a flexible setting since it's very light and easy to move around but also as robust and comfortable as a proper armchair, rather than a common bean bag). We purposefully located the TV on the longer side of the room (which is a more favourable location for yoga classes). The result was a communal space that could be used for a range of activities, from studying to socializing to movie nights (refer to cover image). This kind of adaptability is essential in today's student accommodation market, where the needs and desires of students are constantly changing.
The survey results may have shown a contradiction in student attitudes towards communal spaces, but they also highlighted the importance of flexibility and adaptability in student accommodation design. As the market continues to evolve, it will be essential for operators to stay on top of the latest trends and demands, and design spaces that can meet them.
Cover image: A Designer at Heart - Interior Design project for Nido Student
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