More than 60,000 young Danes commence their university studies every year, but for many, student life can be a lonely experience. In fact, every ninth university student in Denmark often feels lonely. The Bikuben Student Residence is accordingly designed to promote community, an idea that not only makes sense for each resident, but also society as a whole. That’s because if every student residence was designed like the Bikuben Student Residence, the annual value added in Denmark would be DKK 123 million thanks to lower student dropout rates.
Making student life visible
The Bikuben Student Residence appears as a cube, but it is actually a double helix that twists around an inner light-well and creates space for a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. The kitchens, common rooms, training facilities, laundry rooms and roof garden are spread out across different floors, with the common areas facing inwards towards the light-well. This creates a kind of visual contact across life at the student residence, creating more opportunities for socialising. Additionally, the student residences are located in direct extension of the kitchen as the social gathering point.
Creates ‘friction’ between residents
Our anthropological field study of life at the Bikuben Student Residence found that the architecture helps promote a sense of community. The layout creates a flow through the student residence and thus ‘friction’ between its residents, i.e. spontaneous everyday encounters with each other. In addition, the inner light well gives the residents an overview of life across the floors as well as the freedom to choose to get involved in it or not. The communal kitchens and their close proximity to the student residences are also highlighted as a major asset among the residents, as it creates opportunities for different types of activities and degrees of togetherness.
By making the student life in the residence visible and creating more opportunities for socialising, the Bikuben Student Residence creates a deeper feeling of community than in other student residences in Denmark. The result is fewer residents who feel lonely. In fact, 10 percent fewer residents ‘often’ or ‘occasionally’ feel lonely. Compared to students who live alone in their own flats, this result is even more striking.
Retains young people in higher education
Loneliness is one of the primary causes for young people dropping out from their studies. In fact, 41 percent highlight loneliness as having contributed to dropping out from their studies to some extent or a high extent. That’s why it makes sense to create more communal environments in student residences, as this can help retain young people in higher education. Studies have shown that in Denmark, 94 students living in student residences drop out from their studies on an annual basis due to loneliness, and if all student residences were similar to the Bikuben Student Residence, this figure would be reduced by 13.
The financial argument for combating loneliness
Strengthening the social aspect of the university experience not only benefits the individual student, but society in general. This is because every time a student drops out from their studies, society is left footing the bill. A student who completes their studies is expected to generate DKK 26 million in value for Danish society, while the corresponding figure for a student who drops out from their studies is DKK 17 million, meaning Danish society loses out on an estimated DKK 9 million in value generation for every student dropout. Given that the Bikuben Student Residence’s communal environment would help prevent 13 more student residents from dropping out of their studies on an annual basis, the annual value added to Danish society would be DKK 123 million.
Danish Association of Masters and PhDs, 2018 Study commencement analysis / Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, Drop-outs and study programme switching, 2018 / Copenhagen Economics, The Value of Architecture: If all student residences were like the Bikuben Student Residence, 2019 / AART documentation team, Anthropological field study of the Bikuben Student Residence, 2019