Why Interior Design and Architecture are Important on Campus

August 10, 2023

The world of academia isn’t often associated with the concept of “flexibility.” Once something has been established — be it a physical space on campus or the annual midterms and finals schedule — it tends to stay that way for a very long time. Today, many colleges and universities are beginning to see just how important interior design and architecture can be within an educational environment, especially for an undergraduate or graduate student’s academic journey.

In this blog, we’ll uncover just how important intentional design and architectural choices are to facilitate a successful learning environment — and how Kerfkore’s flexible, lightweight, and custom panels can enhance any campus space to let the creative juices flow freely.

How Campus Design & Architecture Affects Learning

Imagine this: You’re tasked with sitting in a cold, dark, damp auditorium for 90 minutes, all while being expected to learn something new for the first time. How much of that information do you think you’ll retain?

There’s a reason why the design and architecture of a space directly correlates to how effective a learning environment is. Studies have shown that a building’s structural facilities significantly impact learning — and things like insufficient lighting, low air quality, uncontrolled temperatures, and noise-heavy classroom settings directly impact educational outcomes.

And it makes sense. After all, who wants to sit for a prolonged period of time in a dark, cold, uninspired space, let alone absorb any important information during that time? Much like an office, the way we design and build our campuses will shape these students, faculty, and staff’s experiences. The more creative and intentional we are with our interior design and architectural choices, the more inspired those who come into these spaces will be.

Finding Higher Education Design & Architecture Solutions

There are a variety of areas you can address within a learning space to improve a student’s overall cognitive function and creativity.

  • Furniture: The type of furniture and the way in which it is arranged can influence how your students interact with the learning material, the professor, and each other within a classroom.
  • Colors: The use of color (or lack of) within a space can stimulate innovative ideas.
  • Temperature: Keeping things too warm or too cool will impact one’s ability to concentrate.
  • Lighting: The right amount of lighting will keep students alert, inspired, and engaged, regardless of the time of day or season.
  • Air quality: Wood products are recommended for use in school environments because their transparent indoor air quality standard promises a healthier air quality.
  • Acoustics: A room’s acoustics can affect how well students are able to communicate and receive information auditorily.
  • Flexibility of the space: Creating flexible or modular spaces that can be used in a variety of ways allows an educational environment to be multifunctional for optimized use.

But where do we start this process of reimagining and creating an environment that bridges the gap between intentional architectural design and education?

The Importance of Observation & Candid Conversation in Campus Design

Take a closer look at different spaces around campus and take note of the places people choose to gather. How are students, faculty, and staff utilizing each space? How are these groups interacting with one another? Are there similar characteristics in some of the spaces that are more often occupied?

Follow this up by having candid conversations with an array of individuals who use these spaces in different ways. Ask what they like or dislike in certain places, or if there are specific environments they tend to avoid — and why. For example, ask both a handful of students and their professor what they think of their current lecture hall design, and have an open conversation about ways they believe the space could be improved for them to take a more active role in their learning.

While it can be overwhelming to find a starting point for addressing inefficiencies in initial campus design plans, gathering this important information from those who use the space regularly will help to point you in the right direction. From there, you can begin to take incremental steps towards updating and integrating new designs into these specified areas.

The Impact of Curves in Higher Education Design

When it comes to creating an inviting and innovative learning environment, curved and rounded environments are essential. Not only does this design choice enhance a space’s aesthetic appeal, but it opens up a space and enhances its acoustic, lighting, and mood boosting capabilities.

Acoustics play a big role in helping students to listen and pay attention. High noise levels lead to irritation, encourage aggressiveness, reduce physical and mental performance, and can even cause headaches and overall discomfort in students. Designing auditorium ceilings to be curved and rounded will help to improve the space’s acoustics significantly, as curved surfaces strongly influence how incoming sound waves are reflected and amplified. But while the panels’ hard surfaces play an important role in dispensing sound waves throughout a space, strategically-placed soft surfaces will complete this equation by restraining reverberations and echos in order to produce that full-bodied sound.

Curved environments have also been found to evoke an emotional response in humans. This, paired with natural materials can promote better learning in a classroom environment as opposed to stale, sterile, black-and-white spaces. For example, utilizing a Harvard-style Lecture Theatre design, which ensures all attendees have a good line of sight to each other in the classroom with a curved seating arrangement around the lectern, has been found to improve interaction, collaboration, and two-way participation between lecturer and student.

Leveraging Lightweight Architectural Panels in Academic Settings

Lightweight architectural panels offer a great solution for campuses who are looking to upgrade any space, be it a classroom, their dining commons, or a student center. They provide a balanced construction composition that reduces the weight of the panels by up to 80%, making them great for any paneling that is overhead, overweight, or oversized.

And, they come in a variety of materials, thicknesses, and sheet sizes, and work well with high-pressure laminates, veneers, metals, leathers, and other finishes you may need to attach. Plus, these lightweight panels offer a more cost-effective and faster installation timeline.

Adding architectural panels to large, open spaces will help to improve acoustic levels while still allowing a space to feel open and multifunctional. Whether it’s creating reflective surfaces by leaving the panel’s original hard surface as is, or integrating a sound-absorbing finish such as microperf, lightweight panels are a smart solution to improving a room’s overall sound. And, with the degree of customizable finishes available, you can dress up the panels in a way that matches your overall design plans for the space.

Designing a Creative Space to Learn with Kerfkore

Kerfkore is proud to offer a variety of architectural panels that can seamlessly achieve the campus building design you imagine. Choose from our selection of panel solutions that will best fit your project’s needs.

  • Lightweight Panels: This lightweight solution offers strength and versatility with a balanced construction of two thin rigid materials paired with a lightweight core. The result? A solution that’s 80% lighter than its plywood, particleboard, and MDF counterparts.
  • Flexible Panels: Our flexible architectural panels bend tighter, offering more consistency and dimensions stability than traditional alternatives. Our products come ready for installation, so you won’t have to waste any time fixing imperfections or prepping the material, which means more cost and labor savings in your pocket!
  • Custom Solution: If you’re not sure where to start, let us help! Whether you have special requirements or need additional resources and information, we here at Kerfkore are ready to help you find the right solution to even your most difficult design challenge.