How Architecture Can Impact Your Campus' Health
Modern campus life today is all about learning, exploring your own identity, and meeting new people - all while dealing with copious amounts of stress. A recent study by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) shows that concerns about student mental health on college/university campuses around the globe are gaining in severity. The most predominant and increasing concern among college students? Anxiety. Students are more stressed out than ever, and all that stress can take a toll on your students’ physical and mental well-being.
However, to create spaces that help promote a healthy mental and physical well being for your students, a deep understanding of your students’ behavioral habits is required. When the time is taken to truly understand how student habits can be mixed with active design, the end result is well-designed spaces that contribute to the overall well-being of your campus.
Active Design Can Make a Difference
Often one of the less prioritized aspects of campus design, active design can promote physical, mental, and social wellness on your campus. Even small touches can make a huge impact, such increasing the visibility of staircases or ensuring that indoor staircases are close to building entrances will encourage students to take the stairs instead of the elevators. However, just because there are more staircases in a building does not mean students will always choose to use it. Create a meaningful reason to use the stairs by adding social gathering spots at the top or as part of the staircase. Not only are these spaces attractive opportunities for students to meet and interact with each other, but it encourages students to be more active by taking the stairs.
Provide Destinations That Motivate
College life can quickly get busy, but a huge part of campus life is socializing. Lounges are popular places for students to interact or relax between and after classes. An attractive lounge space can help promote activity by motivating your student population to make the trek while also allowing more spaces for organic social interactions, which in turn contributes to their mental health.
Encourage Your Students to Stop and Smell the Roses
Consider how your students actually get around. Do the paths and sidewalks encourage students to take the shortest possible routes while navigating your campus? Does weather discourage your students from being more active? Are there outdoor activities that you can promote along these paths? Thoughtfully designed walkways and strategically placed parking lots can encourage physical activity and social interaction, which helps contribute to an overall better mental state among your students.
Your students’ health should be a top priority. By thinking ahead and including thoughtful touches before and during the design process, you can help positively impact student wellness on your campus. Active design that gets your students moving and out a mental rut will not only get help them feel better overall, but will also help create a healthier campus atmosphere for everybody.