College students socialize, shop, and learn in ways unimaginable less than a generation ago. Although they are increasingly connected via social networking Web sites such as Facebook.com, many students live in residence halls that predate the personal computer. The Association of College & University Housing Officers–International (ACUHO-I) held the second stage of its “21st Century Project” ideas competition this month, asking designers to envision housing that satisfies the needs not of today’s students but those 25 years in the future. A team of young interns and architects, fittingly, bested four other finalists—and took home $25,000—with a scheme called “net+work+camp+us.”
The winning team includes Yang Tian, Suping Li, Yuzhu Zheng, and Nathan Herold. All are with Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company, of Norfolk, Virginia. While the previous stage of the 21st Century Project explored the future of individual student rooms, this time architects were asked to work at the scale of residence halls. The net+work+camp+us proposal uses a modular, prefabricated construction system that is readily adaptable to different sites and climatic conditions. The team divided a residence hall into four or five volumes linked by a courtyard as well as elevated, vegetated walkways. Within each building, rooms are arranged along single-loaded corridors that encircle a central, open atrium. For the individual rooms, the team expanded on Jonathan Levi Architects’ winning design from last year—which proposed moveable internal partitions—and added a feature dubbed the “café wall.” The wall separating a suite from the public corridor features large, operable shutters. When open, the bottom edge of this window doubles as a bench, providing space for interaction between suite residents and passers-by.