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Creating Dormitories with a Sense of Home

Abstract
With more people in the United States renting now than at any point since 1965, there is an amorphous temporality in the dwellings of many Americans (Cilluffo, Fry, 2022). This provides flexibility and thus, more freedom for upward mobility, an enticing attribute for younger people living on their own for the first time. However, this lack of permanence can create challenges in establishing a “sense of place”. When residents don’t feel a strong connection to their spaces, they can feel as if they don’t belong. This issue is especially prevalent in dormitories, where a feeling of belonging is vital to student success (Strayhorn, 2019, p.217). These obstacles present a formidable design opportunity for architects to alter their existing planning and design of dormitories. This thesis explores the inherent power struggles dormitories present, as well as the shifting definition of “home” as both a space of belonging and a set of qualities imbued into a space. The goal of this project is to establish an understanding of the role of placemaking in temporary dwellings and discuss the difficulty one can face with creating a sense of “permanence”. and ultimately, to create a framework for designing student housing with a particularly strong “sense of place”. With a focus on housing solutions for university students who are currently experiencing both a shortage of on-campus housing, this thesis offers a set of guidelines for effectively designing student housing with a strong sense of place, with an emphasis on creating a sense of permanence in temporary dwellings.
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