Campuses and the overall educational experience look a bit different in 2022 than in previous years. Colleges and universities are dealing with the lasting effects of the global pandemic while attempting to maintain a sense of safety and community.
Safety is very important these days, but the design and aesthetic of an institution is as important as ever – the visual and physical experience that an institution fosters is, and will always be, an integral part of the college experience. The fact is, the design of a campus can greatly impact how well a student learns, socializes and finds inspiration.
Small-Scale Community Space
Inviting communal spaces have been a growing education design trend, but COVID forced colleges and universities to accommodate smaller numbers while continuing to foster a sense of community. Many have turned to reservation systems in order to keep community spaces open without the safety challenge of large crowds. While this isn’t as big of a trend as it used to be, it is still being done by many institutions.
Classrooms are being designed so that teachers and professors can make it their own. This includes everything from movable, easy-to-clean furniture and enhanced seating layouts to portable technology and mobile whiteboards. Certain flooring solutions, such as engineered hardwood, can withstand scuffs and marks that may result from moving furniture. Some higher education institutions may opt for individualized learning environments, like pods.
Other classroom personalization options include extra power sources and outlets, Wi-Fi connectivity and large monitors to allow for streaming with others remotely.
Deliberate Use of Color
Color has always been a great way to brighten up a space. Now, colleges and universities are using color more intentionally for safety guidelines, wayfinding, important announcements and visual social distancing clues, especially in terms of signage. In addition to incorporating color with safety precautions, designers for educational settings are adding pops of color to liven up spaces.
In the future, schools may also use color-coded furniture to indicate to students, faculty, staff and visitors where they can and can’t sit within a classroom. For example, a room could have a collection of blue, green and red chairs, but limit attendees to sitting in chairs of a particular color.
Another popular design trend is acoustics. Flooring and wall treatments can evoke feelings of safety and comfort and add much-needed visual interest to a space while also offering an important acoustical solution. Flooring choice impacts not only the look and feel of a room, but also the noise level.
Additionally, acoustic flooring solutions that are specially designed to reduce noise come in many types, sizes and colors. Two of the most popular choices are engineered hardwood and LVT – material and design options that are naturally sound absorbing.
All the Comforts of Home
Comfortable, home-like design is a trend seen across nearly all industries, and education is no exception. Students are more likely to feel motivated and learn successfully when they are surrounded by functional and beautiful designs that inspire – and make them feel safe and comfortable. Choosing warm and inviting design elements for both the classroom and student housing can have a positive impact. Now more than ever, students need to feel safe in a setting that feels more like home, which can often result in positive learning experiences.
These five trends are only the beginning! Want to discover more about the CMBA approach to higher education design? Click here!