Tips & Resources
Tips & Resources

Dormitories Around the World

In-campus housing has come a long way from dingy shoe box-sized rooms, where residents argue over toilet usage while typing term papers. From the architecturally marvelous to efficient learning spaces, here are some dormitories worth applying for.
Dormitories Around the World

Simmons Hall, MIT Photo by Aleksandr Zykov on Flickr

Inspired by a sponge, Simmons Hall, MIT, is known for its porous architecture and unique design. Apparently, its inside is a quirky as its outsides, with lounges, floor-to-ceiling windows and curvy walls instead of straight. Students have been known to say that they form friendships in spite of the disconnected architecture, rather than because of it.

Max Palevsky Residential Commons

Max Palevsky Residential Commons Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta designed the Max Palevsky Residential Commons in the University of Chicago. This bright, boxy building could be mistaken for a toy factory rather than a student dorm. It stands out not only for its colours – which amplify sunlight so that it is eye-catching even in winter – but also its size, standing as tall as the solid gothic-style Chicago architecture that surrounds it. The Hall houses eight communities each with their own complement of Resident Heads and Resident Assistants, and one Resident Dean couple who act as intellectual stewards for the residents.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture Photo by Nicolás Boullosa on Flickr

As part of its “learning by doing” ethos, students enrolled in Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture Thesis Program get to spend a semester at student-built shelters scattered through the Sonoran Desert around the campus. The photo above is just one of the shelters – students are expected to design, plan and ultimately erect and live in a shelter of their own conception as part of their thesis.

Ormond College

Ormond College Photo by Rexness on Flickr

Ormond College has been providing residence for students of the University of Melbourne and its affiliates since 1881. A short walk from the university, it is the largest of Unimelb’s student residences, and it shows. Like a medieval castle of yore, it boasts several neo-gothic architecture buildings (including two dedicated entirely to housing graduate students) and extensive gardens. The viewer’s first impression is like being transported back in time to the 1800s.

Arcadia, a yurt village


St Lawrence University, New York, takes immersive learning seriously. One of its featured programmes is the Adirondack Semester, where students get to live with nature in one of the most unique dormitories today – Arcadia, a yurt village in a nearly 4,000 acre conservation easement. Students get to embrace rustic living as they dorm without cellphones, internet or even electrical stoves, and get in touch with nature in the process.

University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China

UIBE’s Residence Hall Photo by Chen Zhao on Flickr

The largest college dormitory in Asia is located on the campus of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China, housing approximately 10,000 students. It functions like a mini-ecosystem of its own with supermarkets, hairdressers and handphone shops for its students to patronise. It is so large and functional that students often get lost in their own dorm.

Cité A Docks

Cité A Docks Photo: Wikipedia

Consisting of 100 apartments, the student housing located in Le Havre, France is made out of shipping containers. Each container is its own studio apartment, and wall-to-ceiling windows let lots of light through. Using metal frames, the architects were able to support the containers and create space for patios, walkways and balconies.