Awkward, disconnected, chilly spaces keep conversations to a minimum. A well-designed university makes room for people to share ideas across generations

University campuses are intended as social spaces, yet their design often sends out the opposite message. Designers go for unusual shapes in an attempt to portray youth and vibrancy, but these can result in oddly proportioned spaces that are difficult to use. Bright colours, liberally splashed about to make areas seem lively, can feel jarring, and soon date.

Outdoor spaces can be just as problematic: think of all those walkways and squares across which students and staff march on their way somewhere else. Many are devoid of communal activity, overshadowed by buildings and lacking greenery. When budgets are tight, this is an area that often suffers.

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