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The Psychological Effects of Dormitory Architecture and Layout on Residents

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The Psychological Effects of Dormitory Architecture and Layout on Residents

For many students, part of the experience of going to college is living in university housing. With so many young people living in such facilities, it is certainly worth investigating how they affect their denizens from a psychological perspective. It is established that one's environment is a major determinant in one's emotional and mental state. This paper will focus on architectural elements, such as floorspace, room layout, and occupancy levels of University residence halls, and how said design elements enhance or impede human interaction and individual moods. In addition to a general overview of the principles of environmental psychology and how they are routinely ignored by Florida State University in their dormitory architecture, several residence halls will be considered and detailed separately.

Of primary importance in dormitory design is the issue of privacy. In Designing Places for People, author C.M. Deasy states: Privacy is as important to dorm residents as it is to anyone else, but it is usually much harder to obtain. Dormitory or barracks living implies being surrounded by people. Being alone or sharing private time with someone else is normally not considered to be an option. If privacy is needed, it must be sought somewhere else. In this regard dormitories fail to provide for an important human need. (58)

Unfortunately, few steps are being taken to improve upon this. It often falls to individual residents to develop a system by which they can each receive the necessary privacy. Even with the creation by those living in a residence unit of a system by which each individual can achieve privacy, it is hardly assure...

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...it would not prevent all instances of incompatible room or suitemates, it would weed out obvious mismatches, and probably raise the overall satisfaction levels of residents considerably.

In the future, when constructing dorms, Florida State should most definitely use the suite configuration. It provides additional privacy in the form of semi-private bathrooms, and promotes socialization. As stated above, though, all residents of a suite must be able to tolerate one another, so careful screening in room assignment is critical. If any new dorms are constructed they should have at minimum 125 square feet. More, between 150 and 200 would be preferable.

All of the information in this paper is only useful so long as someone uses it. It is the sincere hope of the author that the research and conclusions be put to good use by students and faculty alike.
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