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The Design Behind Novel Student’s Accommodation

8 April 2021

When it comes to designing a building, it’s important that a space doesn’t just look good, but it feels good too! It has been proven that a space can both impact your mood and reduce stress, as well as provide you with a sense of belonging – something that is especially important for students who are living away from home.

With this in mind, we have spoken with our fabulous Senior interior designer, Bethan, who works at Stride Treglown and is one of the creatives behind the beautiful spaces at our Bridle Works accommodation in Glasgow.

Read on to find out the design process of our Glasgow student accommodation, a bit about Bethan’s work as an interior designer and the impact a well-designed space can have on your wellbeing.

Tell us more about Bridle Works – what led the design of this scheme?

The aesthetic design narrative of Bridle Works was locally inspired by Glasgow’s art and design history. Colour and material selections were inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the historic Glasgow Tea Rooms, and the art collections of Sir William Burrell. Design decisions were also informed by strong client aspirations for a premium quality product and end-user experience.

 

Do you have a predefined design style, or do you design based on a client’s aspirations?

Each project we design is completely bespoke and informed by a few factors. The client’s aspirations are a major influence on the end design, but we also take into consideration the budget, context of the site location and importantly, the overall experience for the people that will be living in the building. The end-users are always at the forefront of our minds when designing a scheme.

 

How do you come up with your design inspiration?

Inspiration can come from many places, but we like to explore the local area as a start point. We strongly feel that each design should have a sense of place within its surroundings. At the beginning of a project, we walk around the area, research it’s history and note anything of interest and importance that could guide a design narrative and spark ideas. For example, Glasgow is synonymous with the birthplace of the Great British tearoom. At Bridle Works, instead of including a standard coffee lounge, we have instead installed a tearoom, pride of place on the twentieth floor with far-reaching views of the historic city below.

When designing a room what is the most important factor for you?

Making sure the room is functional and “works” is of utmost importance. Especially when space is limited, each detail should be well considered and fulfil a purpose. The intended “feel” of the space is also important. What behaviours are we trying to instigate and what emotion are we trying to evoke in the user? Relaxed and serene, energetic and uplifted or cosy and safe? After that it is all about adding individuality and personality to the space, making it memorable and ensuring the aesthetic relates back to the overall concept narrative.

 

In which areas did you incorporate your understanding of a student audience into the design of Bridle Works?

We thought about the student audience when designing all areas. There was a particular focus on achieving balance between fun and vibrant areas with relaxed and restful areas. During a hectic University semester, there are times when you need to socialise and times when you need to rest. That helped to inform what spaces were allocated to what usage. We have also made sure to incorporate plenty of study spaces – that is what going to University is for after all!

Which areas of Bridle Works do you think will be enjoyed most by students?

There are many different spaces to cater for different needs, whether it is a quiet study nook, a private gaming room for two friends or a communal bar for a big party. Hopefully, everyone will have their own favourite and for different reasons. The lounge spaces should get the most use as they are intended to be used flexibly for a variety of different activities.

 

What’s your favourite design feature at Bridle Works?

My favourite design feature is the glam room. I would have loved to have had this when I was at University! One of the best parts of a girl’s night out is getting ready with your mates, so this really is one of those spaces that brings people together.

How does interior design impact a person’s wellbeing?

Your surroundings greatly impact your ability to perform tasks effectively. A well-designed space will provide you with the appropriate functionality and equipment to achieve your desired objectives and goals. Behaviours can be influenced by the design and content of a room – for example specific furniture selections can inform whether a room should be used for solitude or group activities. Not only this, but the human psychology is greatly affected by our five senses. Interior Design seeks to either stimulate or calm the senses, enabling it to become a tool which we can use to physically influence and enhance people’s moods and general wellbeing.

 

You have used Tom Raffield’s lighting at Bridle Works, what is it that you like about these lights and the brand?

We loved the organic, sculptural aesthetic of Tom Raffield’s pieces. Not only are they a striking visual design feature, but the natural textures and tones of the fittings offset the more contemporary items in the space. They bring a bit of organic softness against brighter colours and straight edges which could otherwise become too harsh.

Have you seen a change in the design of student accommodation? 

Absolutely. I’ve worked on student living projects for over 8 years and in that time, designs have evolved significantly and continue to do so. Many alternative ideas have been explored to give residents the best possible lifestyle and experiences throughout their University years. There has been a particular emphasis on supporting the mental wellbeing of residents, encouraging positive experiences and social interaction with the making of friends and memories. This has pushed the social, communal areas forward in terms of importance, getting residents out of their rooms to spend time together collectively and make real connections. This has also been offset with the need for rest and focus, so quiet spaces and dedicated study rooms have also returned as items of priority.

 

Answers provided by Bethan Hellings, Senior Interior Designer at Stride Treglown

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