10 things to remember while designing a university campus - RTF | Rethinking The Future (2023)

10 things to remember while designing a university campus - RTF | Rethinking The Future (1)

The cut-throat competition in today’s work industry pushes students to pursue an alma mater that makes them future-ready. The crucible of this process is the incubation space that the students spend most of their time at, aka the University campus. This makes us designers responsible for creating a collaborative environment that can mold and adapt itself to the changes of the century, thus guaranteeing a master plan for the entire community. There are several challenges to the design of such a large-scale project.

Here are ten things to keep in mind for an efficient and intelligent University campus design.


Designing a University campus is like planning a mini town. It is imperative to imagine the project’s scale for an urban public realm and design on an axis. As one of society’s most treasured assets, its planning also needs to be aligned with the pace of facility investments and uncertain funding streams so that the design is flexible and in tandem with future developments.

In a low, dense suburb, there are forty-four buildings that follow an open space design at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). The pedestrian-friendly campus is axially planned, directing the movement and giving a sense of order and circulation. It also accommodates transitional and social activities in its open lawns.

10 things to remember while designing a university campus - RTF | Rethinking The Future (2)


It is easy for newcomers to get lost in the maze of buildings and pathways at a University campus. A focus helps visually dominate a space acting as a landmark to help people navigate. This focus also has cultural and social significance and can be a center for recreational activities. It is an integral part of the design that draws eyes towards it.

At Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, the pedestrian plaza manifests the institute’s maple leaf history. The central sculptural element has panels of cut-weathering steel with ‘whispering maple’ figures with a low seating area. Subtle color-changing LED change the sculpture’s hues at night. These are guiding landmarks at the crossroads of the central plaza and create its unique identity.


From large-scaled quadrangles to small-scaled connective spaces such as corridors, the campus has to serve multiple functions on a variety of scales. Architects need to decipher the correlation between activities so that the design promotes their inter-relatedness. It allows the seamless integration of core facilities such as places of social and cultural milieu with the academic blocks (research labs, lecture halls, studios, etc.).

As seen in the master plans for The University of Washington’s campus, the design facilitates an insightful experience that integrates all the stakeholders- administration, academia, and the industry. With divisional blocks and multiple places of social interaction, the campus brings about serendipitous learning.


Progressive digitalization has reduced our visits to the traditional silent sanctuaries of paper scrolls. But the quality environment a library offers is still popular among the students of the higher education arena. Thus, there is a need not for a repository of paperbacks but of contemporary multi-functional spaces that encourage learning by harnessing the technological innovations of the age.

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago’s campus is the epitome of a state-of-the-art reading nook. By shifting the book storage underground and incorporating an automated retrieval system, the designers have tapped into the potential of natural lighting through the clear glass dome. This has increased productivity and allowed sustainability to thrive.


With the start-up culture on the rise, dedicated pockets that spark discussions are required where students can experiment, fail, and start over. These spaces help forge connections of academia with the industry. In the advanced technological setting, it is an architect’s responsibility to create an environment that promotes a flexible learning environment and encourages the entrepreneurial spirit.

At the University of East London, Knowledge Dock caters to each user’s needs with a fluid work environment. The co-existence of active and focus spaces in layers, as seen in its plan along with adaptable collaboration areas, mobile writable screens, and bold graphics, makes this a bustling center of electricity and innovation.


On-campus residency is an integral part of the whole college experience for the students. The design should cater to the array of housing needs of the students as well as the teachers. These living spaces should accommodate the contemporary student’s hectic lifestyles and provide all the necessary amenities.

The residential facility at Phoenix for students at Arizona State University is an example of world-class planning. Special care is taken to mold spaces such as dining halls with movable furniture and walls for video projection so that students can learn and create in the comforts of their residence halls, irrespective of the time of the day. The residence allows students to be seen yet offers them privacy.


Scientific studies have proven the therapeutic effect of biodiversity on stressed minds. Thus, tending to the campus landscape is essential because it offers a sense of retreat to the students dabbling with multiple deadlines. A lush green lawn is always a welcome sight for the people of any age group. Dotted with plants, these spaces generate a healthy mindset for the entire community.

The Espace Bienvenüe at Cité Descartes’ campus in Paris is an innovative project which focuses on ecology. Contrasting the flat site, the 200-meter-long, undulating landscaped gardens built over a concrete structure offer exuberant panoramic views. They bring fresh air to the dense complex, thus reinforcing a spirit of relaxation and peace.


The campus needs to have a barrier-free approach. The designer should ensure all areas, whether recreational or institutional, and all pedestrian routes should follow inclusive design guidelines. All paved walkways must have contrasting edge demarcations, provision of handrails, and curb cuts. There should be separate toilet stalls in public spaces for the disabled.

The University of Texas at Arlington has been a trailblazer in building an accessible campus. They have replaced every single door handle from a knob to a lever across the uni. By setting up an Adaptive Resource Center, UTA has sent across the message to the entire world that inclusive architecture isn’t about installing ramps in your design.


All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Planning of sports grounds, gymnasium, and even rejuvenating spas are of immense importance for the University. These need to follow Olympic standards and guidelines. Medical health centers also need to be planned meticulously. This building block needs to be accessible to all at all times.

The gymnasium’s dynamic design at Shanghai University of Science and Technology lies at the starting point for the residential quarters for teachers and students. It is a dominant landmark whose scale and landscape harmonizes with the surroundings of towering dormitory buildings and encourages sporting fervor among the residents.


Campus design embodies visions and mirrors the goals of the University. Sustainability is one such core value that needs to reflect in the design as the carbon footprint of a large-scale project such as this can have a profound impact on the environment.

UC Merced’s buildings stand to realize its values of conservation and resource-efficiency. As a green building pioneer, all of its buildings have already met or are working to meet LEED standards. This future-oriented campus has aligned itself to the broader academic goals proving to be one of California’s best institutes.

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10 things to remember while designing a university campus - RTF | Rethinking The Future (30)

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10 things to remember while designing a university campus - RTF | Rethinking The Future? ›

Here are ten things to keep in mind for an efficient and intelligent University campus design.

What are campus design considerations? ›

The physical environment of the building or buildings influences the design, as do the number of, distribution of, and distance between the network nodes (including end users, hosts, and network devices). Other factors include space, power, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning support for the network devices.

How do you do campus planning? ›

The campus plan should:
  1. Align to the institution's academic and strategic goals.
  2. Maximize use of critical resources.
  3. Incorporate smart growth planning principles.
  4. Enhance safety and wellness.

What makes a good campus? ›

When on campus, students want to have good meals, great learning facilities and technology, and opportunities to experience culture. As a result, universities are refurbishing residence halls to create more sustainable, welcoming, and holistic environments for students.

What can be improved in universities? ›

8 Ways to Improve College Campuses
  • Ways to Improve Your College Campus.
  • Turn the Gym into a Recreation Center.
  • Keep the Campus Grounds Clean!
  • Improve Campus Mail Services with Smart Parcel Lockers.
  • Increase Parking.
  • Create a Sustainable Student Farm.
  • Focus on Creating Spaces Where Students Can Come Together.
  • Go Green.

What are the different types of campus? ›

Campus types
  • Big campus. sizes range from thousands to tens of thousands of students. ...
  • Small campus. usually fewer than 5,000 students. ...
  • Rural campus. usually located in small towns that are an hour or more outside the nearest city. ...
  • Urban campus. ...
  • Undergrad-focused. ...
  • Research-focused. ...
  • On campus. ...
  • Off campus.

What is campus planning in architecture? ›

The purpose of master plan or campus plan document is to form a basis for the architectural character, composition, and typology of future buildings, groups of buildings and exterior spaces on the campus.

Why is campus planning important? ›

It ensures the highest and best use of land to meet a college or university's academic, research, and outreach missions. While campus planning occurs every day as an ongoing process, longer-range recommendations are often documented in a report called a campus master plan or campus land use plan.”

Why is a campus master plan important? ›

They direct how various aspects of the physical environment, such as academic facilities, open spaces, housing, and circulation come together to meet the needs of the college or university. Most importantly, the campus master plan establishes the setting in which higher education transforms students' lives.

What does a campus planner do? ›

Duties and Responsibilities

Develops and implements institutional processes, guidelines, and standards to ensure campus planning efforts align with the University's established missions, objectives and strategic plans, as well as regulatory requirements. Manages campus planning and facility development projects.

What should a university have? ›

What universities and colleges should do for students
  • provide well-designed courses that meet recognised standards.
  • offer a high-quality academic experience for all students.
  • support students from admission through to completion.
  • ensure students' achievements are valued by employers or enable further study.

What is smart campus? ›

A smart campus is more than a system or collection of applications, platforms, or infrastructures that are being leveraged in a siloed manner around campuses. It requires a strategic framework that fosters a connected ecosystem and creates a new, exciting experience for all.

How do you make the best university? ›

How to make the most of university: 14 tips from a graduate
  1. Make the most of the first few weeks. ...
  2. But don't think the first few weeks mean everything. ...
  3. Make friends. ...
  4. Study. ...
  5. Experiment. ...
  6. Establish a good relationship with your tutors. ...
  7. Go to careers fairs. ...
  8. Explore more than just the best bars.

What are the facilities in a university? ›

  • Subject facilities.
  • Libraries, IT and study spaces.
  • Teaching and learning.
  • Social spaces.
  • Food on campus.
  • Lecture theatres and classrooms.

What are the four types of campus settings? ›

  • College Basics.
  • Types of Colleges.
  • Campus Setting: Rural, Suburban, Urban.

What are key parts of a college campus? ›

Usually a college campus includes libraries, lecture halls, residence halls, student centers or dining halls, and park-like settings.

What is the full meaning of campus? ›

Definition of campus

1 : the grounds and buildings of a university, college, or school. 2 : a university, college, or school viewed as an academic, social, or spiritual entity.

What is a site plan scale? ›

The scale of a site plan, sometimes called a 'block plan', is typically 1:200 or 1:500 scale. This means the map, when printed onto an A4 sheet would be 200 or 500 times smaller than the location in real life. So for example, 1cm on the map would cover 200 or 500cm in the actual site location, that's 2m or 5m.

What is the master plan? ›

A master plan is a dynamic long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development. Master planning is about making the connection between buildings, social settings, and their surrounding environments.

Why did California adopt the master plan for higher education? ›

Kerr stated that the goal of the Master Plan was to balance the "competing demands of fostering excellence and guaranteeing educational access for all." The Master Plan achieved the following: It created a system that combined exceptional quality with broad access for students.

What was the goal of the California Master Plan? ›

The Master Plan directs the California Community Colleges (CCC) to offer lower-division instruction that is transferable to four-year colleges, provide remedial and vocational training, and grant associate degrees and certificates.

How do you build campus culture? ›

11 Proven ways to build a positive school culture
  1. Create meaningful parent involvement. ...
  2. Celebrate personal achievement and good behavior. ...
  3. Establish school norms that build values. ...
  4. Set consistent discipline. ...
  5. Model the behaviors you want to see in your school. ...
  6. Engage students in ways that benefit them.
Nov 19, 2018

How do I keep my college campus clean? ›

Keeping Your Campus Clean
  1. Sweeping and mopping all hard surface flooring.
  2. Vacuuming floors and carpets in administrative, classroom and dormitory buildings.
  3. Cleaning the walls, windows and other surfaces of rooms and buildings throughout campus.
  4. Maintaining handsoaps and toiletries in public and dormitory restrooms.
Jul 10, 2013

What facilities should a college have? ›

College & Campus Facilities
  • Facilities. The college is situated in the heart of the city. ...
  • COLLEGE HOSTEL. Separate hostel facilities are provided for Boys and Girls in the college campus. ...

What is a campus setting? ›

Campus setting means a site on which a program conducts a single program in multiple buildings on the same property, on two or more properties which are contiguous, or on multiple levels of the same building.

What five things are most important to you when choosing a university? ›

Top 10 Factors for Choosing a College
  • Safety.
  • Academic Support and Career Services. ...
  • Campus Life. ...
  • Athletics and Extracurricular Activities. ...
  • Majors and Minors. ...
  • Class Size. ...
  • Cost and Fees. ...
  • Location and Distance From Home. ...

What you should look for in a university? ›

Here are some of the top factors to consider when choosing a college.
  • Academic Majors Available.
  • Affordable Cost of Attendance.
  • Location, Location, Location.
  • On-Campus Facilities and Amenities.
  • Student Activities.
  • Career Services.
  • Do You Feel at Home on Campus?
Mar 2, 2022

How do I create a smart campus? ›

7 Ways to Transform Your University into A Smart Campus
  1. #1 Integrate Smart Lighting & Utility Systems. ...
  2. #2 Marry Learning with Smart Technology. ...
  3. #3 Create a Secure VPN Infrastructure. ...
  4. #4 Install Fast, Free, & Reliable Wi-Fi Throughout Campus. ...
  5. #5 Adopt Flexible Learning Spaces. ...
  6. #6 Tie Together Smart Technology with Careers.

What is a sustainable university? ›

A sustainable university is an educational institution that educates global citizens for sustainable development, offers relevant insights on urgent societal challenges and reduces the environmental and social footprints of its campus operations, empowers students and staff to act, and makes sustainability a central ...

What is a digital campus? ›

Digital Campus is commonly referred to as the use of advanced computer technology and networNing in creating integrated services and a personalized environment to enable communication among university communities.

Which is the campus core layer? ›

Campus Core Layer as the Enterprise Network Backbone

The core layer is the backbone for campus connectivity and optionally the aggregation point for the other layers and modules in the enterprise campus architecture. The core provides a high level of redundancy and can adapt to changes quickly.

What is the one of the best practice feature of implementing multilayer switched campus core? ›

Multilayer-switched Campus Core layers have several best-practice features: Reduced multilayer switch peering (routing adjacencies): Each multilayer Building Distribution switch connects to only two multilayer Campus Core switches, using a redundant triangle configuration.

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