Kew Student Residence is an interesting sort of place. Unassuming, down at heel in parts, and yet it houses a vibrant community of young people. Students living together, and sharing the experience of study and life away from their regional homes. But KSR had a problem. They wanted to refresh a well-used, and not-so-well-worn communal dining space, but lacked the budget to engage an architect or interiors firm outright.
Studio Constantine had previously worked with the KSR managers to refresh the organisation’s visual identity and prospectus pack. KSR asked us to use our knowledge of the organisation’s values and personality and specify a simple, cost effective DIY scheme of colours, materials and furnishings.
Any design, it seemed to us, would need to strike the right balance between the homeliness that students had left behind, and the institutional functionality required of a space that needs to accommodate 50+ guests per meal.
Studio Constantine specified durable flooring and furniture in a tasteful, subtly branded colour palette, and consolidated wet and dry food preparation areas. We focussed on better mapping the flow of students through the space. We commissioned Australian textile artist Holly Marlin to create a weaving 2.5 metres wide, to act as a focal point and double as an acoustic baffle.
Lights and ceiling fans were heightened and the walls painted in a two tone neutral scheme to increase the impression of space and light. Plenty of greenery was introduced to bring the space to life. Utilitarian instructional signage was replaced by framed prints, taking phrases from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies to lighten the tone.
What happened next.
The space has been enthusiastically adopted by the students. They no longer file in to eat and head out immediately after to somewhere more comfy or homely. People linger, converse and share their reflections on the day. The residence managers have a space that is more appealing and profitable to offer for events and conference groups outside of term times, and there is now a physical expression of the visual identity in the heart of the complex; something that has not happened before.
Anouchka Chatelier (Manager)
Kew Student Residence
25 Mary Street
© 2011– Studio Constantine