What Do Students Want From Communal Living Areas?

Anyone with a view to the UK property market can see how things are changing. Thousands of urban spaces are being repurposed for student living; despite application figures falling by 5% this year, there are still over 2 million undergrads on British soil seeking accommodation.

But students will no longer settle for any landlord or agent that will take them; rising expectations have ramped up quality standards for Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). The young people of today demand a ‘connected’ housing experience – a sense that they can mix, relax and socialise with other tenants in a space they love returning to.

As ever, furnishing plays a central role in meeting these objectives…

Perfect sofas for the student hall environment

In many common rooms, sofas are seen as an afterthought – little more than set dressing. The faux-leather style has been popular for several years, thanks mainly to its anti-stain qualities, supportive frame, and the fact it doesn’t align with any exclusively classic/modern décor.

Yet styles have moved on; students want plush, stylish sofas that are inviting for big groups. Upholstered pieces in bold colours can be a refreshing sight in communal areas. On the other end of the spectrum, corner sofas can make use of limited space. They’ll stand out with large cushions, taking advantage of a divan-esque build that doesn’t have armrests to restrict three, four or five-plus sitters.

Creating ‘study’ and ‘social’ lines

To maximise occupancy, accommodation providers may focus on providing an area for watching TV, a pool hall, or an on-site games unit with foosball and table tennis. These are all attractive commodities, but there’s equal desire for a study area that’s bright, well-lit and relatively quiet.

It’ll give students somewhere to work beyond libraries, coffee shops and their bedroom. Going forward, developers should look to draw social/study definitions in communal hubs. A separate collection of two dozen desks – equipped with a reading light, comfortable seat and nearby café or vending machine – would be ideal at the opposite end to a leisure arrangement.

On-site catering facilities

Catered accommodation can be a big draw for higher-paying students. Riding this trend is, in part, guided by the growing number of non-EU international undergrads – Chinese students, for example, increased by 12,500 this year since 2011. The added cost of expat degrees means that parents, students or benefactors can afford a more inclusive package, such as that of on-site cooks and bar staff.

As a result, the push for quality dining furniture has never been more keenly felt across PBSA. Contemporary tables (in the glass-based minimal style, or forged from wood and industrial metal) will push social décor into the most lucrative end of the market. They have to be matched, of course, with stylish chairs and decorative elements such as flowers, coasters, sculptures or wall art.

Student Living is right on the edge of PBSA projects in the UK. We cater exclusively for this unique demographic – by investing in us, you’ll get the finest materials and advice for the development you’re heading. Contact our team to see how we’ll increase the appeal of your student interiors.

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