Trends in Student Housing Amenities
The past few years have shown conclusively that the student housing market is growing in a significantly different direction than residential markets are. While they might be only a few years apart in age, students, young professionals, and young homemakers have differing priorities and needs. A savvy developer needs to adapt to those changing needs to best attract and satisfy student tenants, and the most visible way to do so is to stay on top of evolving trends in amenities.
As with most decisions, the most important line when choosing amenities is the bottom one; no matter how exciting some new amenity is, its attraction to potential and current tenants must be balanced against cost in funds and space, both for now and the future.
So what will the amenities of student housing look like in the next few decades? It’s difficult to say for sure, but here are some stylish, attractive, and cost-effective options to consider in the years ahead.
Due to the shifting balance of cost and space, providing adaptable spaces is essential in amenity design. “You have to ask yourself ‘How many activities can I get in a very limited footprint?’” Senior Interior Designer Mark Bryan says. “The more flexible spaces you provide, the more opportunity you give people to have experiences in them.”
Take golf simulators, for example. They require a lot of room and expense, usually serve only a certain small segment of the tenant population, and can really only be used for one purpose.
Contrast this with the possibilities offered by one of Bryan’s favorites: a movie theatre/media room. With the right design, these can not only be used for watching movies and TV shows, but also used on trivia and karaoke nights, game days, talent shows, and for video games and amateur theatre, to name just a few possibilities.
Tailor-Made for Success
Adaptability doesn’t end there. One of the hallmarks of hospitality design is giving customers options, and in this age of simple digital surveys, it’s easy to ask the community directly what amenities it wants and would use in its new complex. This savvy move doesn’t only gather useful data; it also can be used as a marketing tool, creating interest within the target demographic and giving them a sense of investment and inclusion in the project.
Housing near a college specializing in music, for a simple example, would do well with some soundproof practice rooms, showing an attentiveness to the needs of the tenants. “Cookie cutter is really not the best way to go about these things anymore,” says Bryan. These days, students aren’t just looking for a place to crash after class; what really makes a complex stand out is a distinctive hospitality, personality, and style, all of which add up to brand.
The Evolving Old…
Some amenities are evergreen. At a recent development near Florida State University, Stadium Centre, getting plenty of time in the sun was a priority for students; the final build in 2014 included two resort-style swimming pools with sundecks, cabanas, and a sand volleyball court. Outside the Sunshine State, a zero-entry wading pool is a cheaper and equally effective option.
Games like pool, shuffleboard, and air hockey remain popular, as they permit group play of varying skill levels. The next step is to include electronic gaming rooms in addition to these old standbys; while many students will have personal gaming devices, they don’t have the space or equipment for large party games and events.
Every year fitness rooms become more important to students, and the lack of a good one is a dealbreaker for many apartment hunters. This makes it even more important to choose equipment that is both durable and flexible. Fitness fashions change every year, so available equipment must not only permit a variety of exercise styles and skill levels but also be able to accommodate future technologies and upgrades.
...And the Exploding New
Overall, technology integration is growing more popular and will undoubtedly continue to rise on the lists of both client and resident priorities, but choosing the right technology to include can be difficult. “Things can become almost instantly dated the moment they go up,” says Bryan. “What can you do to make it equally attractive five years from now?”
As an example of technology integration done right, Bryan points to USB charging ports in furniture and tables, which will remain useful for years. It’s impossible to future-proof student housing when it comes to technology, but keeping designs flexible and open will save money later.
The Mixed Use Future
The next step for many student housing developments is to combine live, work, and play environments into a mixed use complex. These typically comprise of retail on the bottom floor and residential above, using space more efficiently and encouraging community-building among residents. Mixed-use complexes require even more careful design, expense, and management, but are often worth it. Given the social nature of today’s youth, mixed use developments are becoming the norm.
All in all, amenities for student housing are more diverse and plentiful than ever, and it can be difficult to choose the best fit for a particular development. But even in this period of rapid change, it’s possible to build a forward-looking, creative, and stylish collection of amenities when the principles of affordability, durability, practicality, attractiveness, and adaptability are kept in mind.