Ideas | July 16th 2013

ACUHO-I Talking Stick: Common Space for the Common Good

By Christopher Hill, AIA

How does a student know it is okay to walk through a lounge where they notice other occupants and feel awkward about intruding upon the space? What’s the protocol? Should they walk through or back track to the nearest exit? Luckily, contemporary hall design gives students cues to help them determine how to navigate their residence halls. And one of the most critical components of this design is common space. 

When carved out and placed strategically in the floor plan, common space helps to define the most private and most public spaces of the hall: The physical structure gives students guidelines for where to navigate and when. They learn where interactions are encouraged and where privacy needs to be preserved. Today’s residence halls are considerably different from halls of the past, which had limited common space that was one-dimensional in nature and often isolated to the lower levels. Today, common spaces can take many forms and can be located on many floors. This helps create physically and psychologically welcoming spaces that foster student growth and happiness.

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