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The 10 Most Modern Dorms in the World

Posted on Wednesday February 29, 2012 by Staff Writers

Most dorm rooms at colleges around the world are pretty unexciting when it comes to architecture and technology. Four-walled rooms, bland colors, and little to differentiate one room from another are all hallmarks of the usual dorm experience. Some students, however, are lucky enough to live in state-of-the-art dorms that have jaw-dropping architecture and facilities on site. We’ve collected just a few of these super modern dorms here that are sure to make any college student living in a run-of-the-mill dorm green with envy.

  1. Illinois Institute of Technology, State Street Village

    Completed in 2003, this dormitory at IIT was designed by world-renowned architect Helmut Jahn. At first glance, the State Street Village dorms appear to be one continuous building, but inside there are actually three buildings making up the structure. The metal and glass structure lets in loads of light to the dorm’s rooms and common areas and the open structure helps it feel open and airy. It’s not only attractive, however, but also functional, keeping students safe with a pass card system, offering laundry and kitchens on each floor, and providing larger than average rooms for students.

  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Simmons Hall

    Simmons Hall, or “The Sponge” as it’s known on campus, was opened in 2002 and is one of MIT’s most unique and iconic buildings. It gets its nickname from the more than 5,500 small windows that punctuate its surface, each adorned with a colorful windowsill that gives the building an incredibly distinctive look. The windows are designed to both help let in the sun in the winter and to allow it to be kept out in the summer, saving on heating and cooling costs. While the building won awards for architectural design, and it is no doubt an amazing structure, students have mixed feelings about its functionality, as the windows leave little room to hang things on the wall and limit the transmission of wireless signals and stairs and elevators are irregularly placed.

  3. Copenhagen University, Tietgen Residence Hall

    If you’ve ever seen this unique Danish dormitory, it likely stuck in your mind for its circular shape. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects designed this residence hall in 2006, using traditional southern Chinese Hakka architecture as inspiration. The award-winning building is laid out in order to facilitate the development of student community life, with common areas on the first floor and student rooms all linked to a central courtyard. Every room in the building, 360 in all, comes with a view, and students can enjoy amenities like laundry, music rooms, and study areas year round.

  4. Utrecht University, Smarties

    You’d be hard-pressed to find a dorm that’s as cheerfully colorful as this 380-unit building in the Netherlands. Designed by Amsterdam-based architect Marlies Rohmer, the building features a pixelated “skin” of aluminum panels, a glass-walled lobby, and a covered plaza out front that serves as a gathering place for students. Bright colors and clean lines abound throughout the structure, making both the many community spaces in the building and the private rooms seem cheerful and open.

  5. Royaume-Uni, Cite a Docks

    Repurposed shipping containers are seeing a lot of use in architectural projects these days, and even dorms have been part of the trend. Cite A Docks is a creative student housing project located in La Havre, France that turns old shipping containers into an amazing living space for students. Cattani Architects created 100 new student dorm rooms by stacking shipping containers four high, connecting them with open stair wells, and adding loads of glass and small terraces for curb appeal. The rooms are pretty nice inside as well, as students get a view of the water and enjoy a fairly private space to call their own while attending university.

  1. Stony Brook University, Nobel Halls

    This new addition to the Stony Brook,N.Y., campus is already making a big splash in the architecture world, winning several awards from the AIA and getting LEED Gold certification. The university’s first sustainable dormitory, the building brings in loads of natural light, is constructed with sustainable materials, and provides excellent air quality for students. Goshow Architects completed the project in 2010, creating new rooms for more than 600 students that are not only functional but also attractive, green, and conducive to building a community of students.

  2. Rice University, McMurtry College and Duncan College Dorms

    These new dormitories were designed to fit in with the existing brick buildings on campus so they may not look ultra modern on the surface, but looks can be deceiving. Both dormitories have LEED Gold certification, which exceeds the school’s requirement of LEED Silver for all new construction, the result of some pretty high-tech features within. Residents of the buildings will find green roofs, HVAC infrared sensors, energy-efficient bathrooms, and glass-lined dining halls and arcades.

  3. University of Arizona, Arbol del Vida

    If you’re looking for a high-tech dormitory, you won’t find one much more modern than this one, completed in 2011. This brand new facility provides lodging for more than 700 students from the Honors College. The building is designed to create several smaller communities within the main building, each uniting to form a larger central village, which the designers hoped would create a productive academic environment for some of the school’s best and brightest students. The building also features some amazingly high-tech elements, including thermal sensors that turn on lights and moderate temperature, rain water harvesting, and solar panels that heat water for the showers.

  4. University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana Student Housing

    Built by Bevk Perovic Architects, this 56-unit building on the banks of the Ljubljanica River in Slovenia is a beautiful work of modern architecture that also provides a space perfect for the necessities of student life. A glass foundation houses public spaces for teaching, study, and leisure and student rooms extend on the floors above. Each floor is designed with rooms around a central service core containing kitchens, bathrooms, and dining rooms with windows that open to the view outside. Student rooms are afforded a bit more privacy by perforated folding panels of aluminum which students can open and close.

  5. Swathmore College, Paul and Kemp Residence Halls

    Recognized by the AIA with a housing award in 2010 (among many other awards), these new dormitories certainly stand out from the crowd both in terms of looks and high-tech features. Designed by William Rawn Associates, the two halls house 150 students in a highly modern, aesthetically-pleasing building of glass, steep, and stone. Atop the buildings lie more than 14,300 square feet of green roofs, providing animal habitats and helping regulate building temperature. One of the coolest features of the buildings are the two-story “living rooms” that allow students to gather to hang out or to study while enjoying the scenery of the schools arboretum, just steps from the dorms.