A design by Net+Work+Camp+Us groups buildings of modular rooms around atriums. (Image courtesy of ACUHO-I)
St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. — Four young architects who cleverly updated the monastic quadrangle beat out teams from well-known architecture firms to win the second round of a competition to design the ideal college residence hall for the 21st century.
The winning entry showed a sleek complex with ground-floor classrooms and public spaces that spill freely into a central courtyard. On upper stories, modular rooms are grouped around atriums and linked by green roofs. Each student’s room has a “cafe window“—a large window that can be opened between the room and the atrium walkway when the occupant is feeling sociable. The window ledge doubles as bench seating.
The four architects, who call themselves Net+Work+Camp+Us, took home a $25,000 prize from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International, which sponsors the 21st Century Project. Their entry was among five finalists presented to a jury of campus-housing experts on Friday at a well-attended event here.
This year’s competition sought ideas not for individual rooms, which were the subject of last year’s competition, but for groups of rooms that the competition organizers referred to as “blocks” and “neighborhoods.” The eight jurors included architects and housing officers. In the third stage of the 21st Century project, three colleges will be chosen to develop programs for new residence halls—using ideas that the project has generated—and firms will compete to design one of the three buildings.
Speaking for Net+Work+Camp+Us, Suping Li said the team’s design was an “infinitely variable” prototype that could easily be adopted to different climates and educational programs. She said it was intended to blur the distinction between indoors and outdoors and to let residents construct their own identities within their residence halls. Her teammates are Nathan Herold, Yang Tian, and Yuzhu Zheng. Although they entered as an independent team, all four are employees of Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company.
At the ground-floor level, the Net+Work+Camp+Us complex features academic spaces and a cafe that flow into the landscape and are open to the entire college community. One level up, green roofs on the ground-floor structures provide outdoor space open only to the building’s residents. Within the buildings that rise higher, atriums with stairways permit circulation and bring daylight into the buildings. Solars panels would be mounted on the roofs, and students’ rooms would have exterior LED walls that students could program as they liked.
The jury’s chairman is Ron McCoy, university architect at Arizona State University. The jurors, he said, liked the Net+Work+Camp+Us entry because it “in a kind of refreshing way carries the best of traditions of architecture and community” but was also “very innovative in the sense of trying to tap in to the kinds of social networks that students today are immersed in and to try to manifest that in a sense of space.” He singled out the cafe windows as a “fantastic invention.”
But entries by the other finalists, Mr. McCoy said, also offered “fresh interpretation after fresh interpretation after fresh interpretation—each one had ideas that could contribute to this project.”
MGA Partners, of Philadelphia, offered the most conventional entry, for a version of a college house like those at Harvard and Yale Universities. Daniel Kelley, a principal of the firm, said college houses integrate academic and residential aspects of students’ lives while helping students form bonds with one another, their houses, and their institutions. MGA’s entry—designed for a specific site at an unnamed urban institution that is unmistakably the University of Pennsylvania—envisions four-person suites grouped into four-story pavilions housing 64 students each. The pavilions rise out of a ground-floor plinth housing public functions. Landscaped second-story terraces would be open only to residents of the house.
Ayers/Saint/Gross, of Baltimore, had the most unusual entry, which centered not on a building plan but on an integrated, ubiquitous network that would track each student’s whereabouts by recognizing a bracelet he or she wore. The network would help students interact in a number of ways. A student’s messages would be available wherever he or she approached a network interface, for instance. The network would make it easy to invite friends to study, watch a movie, or cook a meal in a campus kitchen using food provided by the food service in amounts specified by recipes stored on the network. The network could also monitor students’ workouts, turn off the lights and air conditioning in their rooms when they left, and, best of all, do their laundry. J. Eric Moss, a principal in the firm, said the technology would allow “vanilla space” to be used in a variety of ways.
In a design from Little, green roofs would top zigzagging buildings. (Image courtesy of Little)
Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, of Charlotte, N.C., imagined housing complexes of long, paired buildings with gentle zigzags that would create public spaces between the two structures—spaces to be used, in part, for orchards in which students would grow some of their own food, as well as for wetlands that would recycle water used in the buildings. To preserve students’ sense of individuality, the four-story buildings would accommodate a variety of one- and two-story suites with two or four bedrooms. Upper-level openings in the structures would offer a garden for each group of 20 students, and green roofs would top each building.
Another design centers on an atrium with a spiral walkway. (Image courtesy of ACUHO-I)
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and Mackey Mitchell Architects, of St. Louis, took one side of a narrow European streetscape and wrapped it into a spiral that climbs along the walls of a glassed-over, multistory atrium with a plaza at its base. The spiral would allow access to clusters of rooms—four rooms in each suite, and three suites in each cluster, arranged so that sliding walls between the suites could be opened to create sizable communal areas. A tower rising through the atrium would serve as a ventilation device, pulling fresh air in through the rooms and suites and expelling it above the atrium. One-story retail space at the front of the building would be covered with green roofs, and the structure would have numerous other sustainable features.
As it did last year, the housing-officers association will publish the entries from this year’s finalists in book form. The Net+Work+Camp+Us team will present its design at the association’s annual meeting, in June, in Orlando, Fla. (To see three additional images of the Net+Work+Camp+Us project, click here.) —Lawrence Biemiller
A rendering of the Net+Work+Camp+Us design at night. (Image courtesy of ACUHO-I)