Architecture in institutions of higher learning brings with it certain unique opportunities.
While the aesthetic, function and appeal of various projects vary from development to development, there is often an element of innovation and whimsy in these projects.
All around the world, architects push boundaries in developing student buildings, offering a zaniness informed by modern design practices – almost always inclusive of a sustainable design base – that come together to create truly spectacular spaces for students to live and work.
Close to home, Melbourne’s new RMIT Design Hub is a testament to ingenuity, style and character, with the building for design students clad with a dynamic and transformative façade.
A little further away, French architectural firm Olgga architects were some of the first designers to bring shipping container architecture back into the mainstream consciousness with their sustainable student housing development ‘Crou’ located in Le Havre, France. Using 100 recycled shipping containers the designers created a 2,851 square metre structure that offers students a comfortable place that lodge that is responsible in its environmental positioning and unique in its look and feel.
Most recently, the ‘Basket Apartments’ in France earned industry acclaim for a student housing development while moving away from a traditional linear aesthetic. The apartments, located in Paris’ 19th district, were designed by Slovenian architectural firm OFIS.
The 11-storey development gets its name from its stratified timber clad façade and stacked, box-like modular components that give the perception of crookedly-stacked wooden crates.
While this gives the building a whimsical aesthetic, the crooked stacking also allows the modular components to receive shading from units above, with a completely transparent western façade allowing for increased natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting inside.
The building also features 300 square metres of rooftop photovoltaic panels, on-site water collection facilities and a heat recovery system.
Perhaps it is the nature of the education system, a youth-driven environment that focuses on learning, innovating and experimenting, that drives these fun and unique developments. Perhaps they are specifically built for an audience that is more likely to relish the zany ‘wow factor’ elements than subtle functionality or true architectural integrity. Whatever the case, such developments most certainly gain attention and acclaim while inciting a sense of fun that is fitting at colleges and universities.