Students on micro-dorms: 'I'm living the dream'

Some micro dorms are smaller than parking lot spaces but can still fit a bed, desk, and other amenities

The tiny living movement has come to college campuses in the form of scaled-down micro-dorms, Maxine Joselow reports for Inside Higher Ed

Thomas Carlson-Reddig, global practice leader at Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, explains that the concept of tiny living is based on using small spaces simply and deliberately. That goal is easy to accomplish when your living space is smaller than a parking spot—Carlson Redding's firm helped design the pods at one residence hall at the College of Wooster (Wooster), which measure about 72 square feet for singles and 108 square feet for doubles.

In 2014, Wooster hired Little and BSHM Architects to convert an old schoolhouse into a residence hall. The schoolhouse was already divided into classrooms, which were easy to turn into suites, says Doug Laditka, associate vice president of facilities management and development at Wooster. The suites can fit a common area, bathroom, kitchenette and four or five pods.

While the pods aren't exactly roomy, Laditka says they offer enough space for furniture and amenities. Each pod features a built-in bed, built-in desk, closet area, and space to store unused items.

"The pods just provide everything students need in a small space," he says. "To me, that's kind of what this modern living movement is all about. You have everything you need right there, and you don't waste any space. But it doesn't feel claustrophobic."

The College of Charleston will introduce a micro-dorm residence this fall. The pods at the Rutledge Rivers Residence will have 252 square feet per student, compared to the average on campus-apartment, which has about 350 square feet per student.

"They designed the rooms to be smaller, but the community area is bigger," says Michael Chew, executive president of the Residence Hall Association. "So people will be drawn out of the rooms into the community space and have more interaction with the people they're living with."

Amanda Anyim is excited to be a micro-dorm resident.

"When I walked in, I thought it looked European-style, kind of like Ikea … I feel like I'm living the dream. It's like living in a hotel," she says. "I'm definitely getting my exercise climbing up on the [loft] bed, but it's not a problem."

Architectural firm Svigals & Partners is branching out to introduce tiny living to faculty, researchers, and international students. The firm is designing fully furnished 400-sqaure foot micro apartments for faculty and researchers with short-term appointments at Yale University (Joselow, Inside Higher Ed, 8/19). 

Best practices for building modern student living spaces


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