Creating Safe and Secure Student Housing Communities

By November 6, 2023Senior Housing

Prioritizing Safety & Security in Student Housing Architecture

Sending our kids to college, we are acutely aware of how young they really are. Many students start college at 17 or 18, barely old enough to drive on their own and about to dive into an overwhelming world of classes, new social groups, and the wonders of independence. Student housing communities help to ease that transition by providing a safe communal living environment with shared resources and responsible adults to watch over them. We also know how vitally important it is to keep student housing communities both safe and secure. This effort is rooted in the very design of each student housing building and complex. As a professional architecture firm, Ted Trout Architect and Associates is dedicated to designing student housing communities with security at the heart of every design.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that ensure safe and secure housing for college students that can be built into the design.

Limiting Access with Student ID Readers

Access is a critical consideration for student housing. You want to ensure that only students and authorized school staff are able to enter or leave a dorm building, and that all traffic is recorded. The best way to do this is by placing automatic locking doors and ID readers at every security point in the building or residential complex.

Student ID readers can be used to ensure not only that only students enter residential areas, but also that only residents of each building, floor, wing, and room are able to pass certain checkpoints. This allows students security from strange adults and from each other.

Floor and Wing Security

Separating residential areas by section can increase the security of large student housing buildings, complexes, and communities. Tall dorm towers, for example, may be co-ed with girls and boys separated by floor or wing. Therefore, floor or wing security may be necessary to ensure privacy and co-ed safety. There may even be private lounges and study areas just for the residents of each hallway, floor, or wing of the building.

Built-In Furniture with Rounded Corners and Edges

When building student housing, it’s important to remember that young people are very active, and sometimes clumsy.  Built-in furniture reduces the risk of furniture being out of place or stumbled over. Rounded corners and edges can be used in every detail of the building to ensure that play and rough housing are all conducted as safely as possible.

Automatic Locking Doors 

Doors throughout student housing should lock automatically, and even send alerts if propped open for too long. This will help to ensure that external and internal security is maintained at all times. Smart locks can also make it possible to change the protocols of door locks, such as permitting guests in the lobby until nightfall or increasing the privacy permission on interior student lounges at set times.

Smart locks can also be used to schedule private study or practice times.

In addition, exterior doors should always remain locked, openable only by scanning a valid campus ID like previously stated.

Exterior Package Lockers for Mail and Deliveries

Smart lockers are a growing trend within student housing architecture, allowing delivery persons to leave packages in a secure location that can be accessed by a student’s ID or phone app when they are available to retrieve the package, whilst keeping the dorm lobby safe from strangers. Students will be assigned a different locker each time depending on the size of their package.

Comprehensive Surveillance of Entry Points and Public Areas

Surveillance has long been a standard element of secure student housing. While privacy is important, comprehensive surveillance is a must at all entry points for the student housing building or complex. This, working alongside the card reader will help to maintain a complete understanding of who has come and gone from the dorm area, including guests who were brought in by students and may not have a campus ID card to scan.

Smoke, Carbon Monoxide, and Flood Detection

Every dorm room, hallway, and public area should have a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed near the floor. We also advise the installation of flood sensors in each bathroom and below each washing appliance. Sensors can help to keep students safe from both accidental and environmental risks.

Enclosed Courtyards and Rooftop Gardens

Lastly, it is worth considering how to provide students with a secure outdoor space within your next student housing architecture plan. Time spent outdoors increases mental health and is generally enjoyable. For a student housing community with a larger footprint, an interior courtyard can become a secure space for relaxing & studying. It is also protected by layers of exterior security so that non-students cannot invade this private space. For tall dorm towers and more compact student housing buildings, a rooftop garden is worth considering. Rooftop gardens have the ability to provide students with the outdoors while being protected by the building itself.

Ultimately, student housing should feel uplifting and empowering, while also providing a trusted level of security. Safe from both outside dangers, and also the risks they might accidentally create for themselves.

To explore more about student housing design, please contact us at Ted Trout Architect and Associates. We are eager to discuss your goals, address any questions you may have, and listen to your concerns. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.