The Most Beautiful College Dorms in the World

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A few weeks ago we rounded up some of the most beautiful and imaginative public schools in the world. To celebrate the annual odyssey that is going back to school, we decided to take a look at another equally important, but also often sub-par, educational stomping ground: the college dorm.

Canadian folk rock legend Gordon Lightfoot summed up the importance of the built world around you when he said “you just get the vibes of your surroundings and it rubs off on you.” It has almost become a rite of passage to endure sterile, shoebox-size accommodations that feel more like a jail cell than a nurturing space. But what if your college dorm experience was inspiring instead of distressing or downright depressing? From ultra modern garden apartments complete with gigantic swings to gorgeous student-designed desert structures, click through to check out some of the most stimulating college housing on the planet. Nominate your picks in the comments below!

Cité a Docks by Cattani Architects – Le Havre, France

Image credit: trendsnow

Built from old shipping containers, the modern, light-filled rehab residences come with their own bathroom and kitchen. The design is raised off the ground, making room for bikes, gardens, and shaded places to hang out.

The Campagneplein Dormitory at University Twente by Arons & Gelauff Architects – Enschede, The Netherlands

Image credit: Eikongraphia

One side of this nine-story dorm features the second highest climbing wall in The Netherlands.

‘Smarties’ at Utrecht University by Marlies Rohmer – Utrecht, The Netherlands

Image credit: Scagliola en Brakkee via designboom

Featuring giant swings and built-in loungers, this pretty pixelated, high density residence was designed to alleviate the housing shortage for young adults in Utrecht. Who says high density can’t be fun?

Simmons Hall at MIT by Steven Holl – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Image credit: Scott Norsworthy via archdaily

As architect Steven Holl described, “MIT’s desire for the undergraduate dormitory to encourage interaction and mingling among students was the driving force behind Simmons Hall becoming a ‘slice of a city.'” The 195,000 square foot project is not only a dormitory with 350 residences, but also contains a 125-seat theater, a night cafe, and street level dining.

Tietgen Dormitory by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects – Copenhagen, Denmark

Image credit: Jens Lindhe via e-architect; TUTBOX

The circular building is meant to be a symbol of equality and community. There are two music rooms — one with a piano, and one with a drum set. There’s a gym and outdoor areas for basketball and table tennis. Perhaps the most fun part of all are the large communal kitchens stocked with Scandinavian tableware and all manner of cooking utensils and equipment. Did someone say college dinner party?

Willow Street Residence Hall at Tulane University by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects – New Orleans, Louisiana

Image credit: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

Taking cues from New Orleans’ history and vernacular, the dorms are a lovely expression of all things Southern.

McMurtry College at Rice University by Hopkins Architects with Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company – Houston, Texas

Image credit: Robert Benson via DesignFun

If only our college dining hall was that awesome.

Taliesin Shelters at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture – Scottsdale, Arizona

Image credit: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation; boiteaoutils

A writer for The New York Times called the student-designed and built structures at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture perhaps “the hippest dormitory in the world.” The “shelters” dot the natural landscape surrounding the campuses, and are offered to students as options for living while attending school.

Student Housing by Bevk Perovic – Poljane, Slovenia

Image credit: MIMOA

This student housing is right at the edge of a bustling city so the architects designed folding aluminum panels to block out unwanted noise, providing a pretty solution to privacy. The orange Eames chairs are a nice touch too.

M6B1 student housing by JDS architects – Paris, France

Image credit: designboom

We often like to include one or two conceptual projects to show a glimpse of a possible future. This charming modern interpretation of student housing creates ample green living space with hanging flower pots galore. A welcome departure from the serious, institutional dorms of time past.