November 9, 2021

Prioritizing Privacy in Higher Education Design

Prioritizing Privacy in Higher Education Design

Posted by CMBA Architects on Nov 9, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Higher education campuses are diverse places, offering a wide variety of services within a small area. Different services need different levels of privacy, and awareness of the nuances involved in these decisions is a big part of the architect’s responsibility. By gathering information from everyone (students, teachers, administrators, etc.), architects can gain a solid grasp of the needs of each institution and make design choices that respond to those needs.

Different Types of Spaces on Campus

Design considerations vary widely between public and private areas on campus, so it’s vital that both the client and architect have a common understanding of the goals for a space. Students are less likely to seek out places out of their way or hidden from view, so it’s imperative to situate spaces such as dining areas, group study rooms, and conference centers in prominent places on campus. Public spaces should be located where they are visible to many students, situated along well-traveled pedestrian paths, walkable streets, outdoor quads, or on ground-level floors of buildings. When the intent is to draw students to a service, place it where the students are.

Key Design Functions

Step one of the planning process is to place students properly for their desired level of public interaction. Design elements that can aid in the distinction between different spaces are dividers, tinting, and even the placement of furniture. Acoustics and sound techniques, such as white noise generators or absorptive finishes, also hold the potential to create public spaces that feel open, while offering privacy to those who need it.

Wayfinding is another important consideration for designating public and private spaces. Good placement and visual cues help draw students to public areas. A campus that is planned with public- and student-oriented spaces zoned together should have amenities in a central area near campus entrances and parking. These areas should be reinforced with signage and landmarks such as artwork, gateways, and landscaping elements.

The tradition of building a tall campanile or bell tower to mark the center of campus is still a great way to allow anyone to orient themselves immediately.

Private Spaces are Important

While an emphasis is placed on collaborative spaces in higher education design, private spaces can't be overshadowed. Curriculums are encouraging collaborative learning, and campus design needs to support this trend for groups. Even so, there remains a need for individual study in quiet spaces that should be acoustically shielded from noisier areas nearby.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with an architect at CMBA!

Topics: Higher-Ed-General