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Research into Practice

17 Oct 2023
Estates & Facilities Management Stage

Design Criteria for social spaces and a healthier university campus
Adelina Manea, Academic Development Officer in CAD, Coventry University

This presentation is the culmination of my MSc Research for the past three years. I have analysed design factors for university campuses, and I have tested these on the Coventry University campus, to determine good design principles. As an outcome I have designed a 5 pillar design scoring criteria for successful social spaces which works alongside sustainability frameworks like BREEAM.

This study started with an aspiration to discover the essence of good campus design which allows students and staff to thrive. Although for students the experience is relatively short, it has been discovered it can have large ramifications into their lives as it sets out rules and boundaries for working practice, and with more people choosing to pursue an undergraduate degree in the UK today than ever before, the university experience will impact an increasing proportion of the population.

This topic has been explored through the psychology lens, but there is limited research about designing spaces to flourish, therefore this study aims to determine new ways to analyse design to enable designers and stakeholders to make informed decisions when it comes to university campuses.

Does the educational place that you work or study in help or hinder you?
Andrew Thomson – Director & Designer at BCA Landscape

Covid made us look again at how and where we work and study. It focused our minds and bodies on the need for fresh air and how important a connection with nearby nature and the outdoors is. It made us realise that the enclosed environment of our homes and workplace aren’t always beneficial for our health or productivity.

To this end, we need to take a step back and reflect on whether the work/study places we create around us are helping or hindering our productivity and ultimately our physical and mental well-being.

So, what is it about a window with a green view that makes us feel better? Over the last few years at BCALandscape we have been delving deeper into trying to understand the psychological and physiological mechanics behind this phenomenon. It’s a fascinating world, that includes touch, sound and smell and not just sight, it involves ergonomics and proxemics (are we comfortable?) and it tracks back thousands of years to see how we are still adapting as a species to the very recent arrival of Cities!

This presentation delves in to how we have been using this fascinating research to develop our own understanding and knowledge base and in-turn inform an amazing new Secret Study Garden at Liverpool University's Sydney Jones Library.


Lucy Plumridge, Associate Director - HLM Architects
Adelina Manea, Academic Development Officer in CAD - Coventry University
Andy Thomson, Director & Designer - BCA Landscape



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