Social sustainability in new student housing

Fri 07 Jun
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Buzz word or not. We're building new student housing on Campus Porsgrunn, and of course we're working on social sustainability.

When SSN's new student housing is ready in Porsgrunn in spring 2025, it is not only the material requirements for sustainability that have guided the choices in the construction process. The design of common areas and the building's location on the site are also important in making the student accommodation socially sustainable.

What is social sustainability?

Social sustainability is a broad concept that encompasses several factors, both physical and non-physical. Some of the factors that can be linked to the concept are: health and quality of life, equal access to resources and goods, inclusion, participation, sense of place, belonging, safety and livability.


Read more: Start of construction of new student housing in Porsgrunn.

Social sustainability at all levels

– A good student residence stimulates activities, community and inclusion, as well as relaxation and recreation - both indoors and outdoors, summarizes Mari Evje Øren, Head of Sustainability at SSN.

🌳🚲☀️🏓 We consider social sustainability in the new student housing:

  • By establishing good, social and inclusive zones (more common rooms, outdoor seating, table tennis).

  • By emphasizing a green outdoor space. This has many positive effects for nature and insects by increasing biodiversity, but it is also positive for our health. Research shows that proximity to green surroundings changes our brain and reduces anxiety.

  • By building close to campus, there is more social life on campus. This also helps to reduce the need to drive to campus. We facilitate the use of bicycles.

  • By ensuring good lighting conditions and taking measures to reduce noise - because views, noise and air quality also affect our health.

The UN's three dimensions of sustainable development are climate and environment, economy and social conditions.

In addition to the social conditions in the housing area itself, responsibility for the social conditions in the supply chain is also important when SSN builds new student housing.

– We must work to ensure that employee and human rights are safeguarded by those who source raw materials and produce the building materials and equipment we use in construction projects. Here, it's about making demands on suppliers that ethical guidelines are observed and that we follow up on compliance, says Mari.

Architecture against loneliness

Increased loneliness among students is a fact, according to SHoT 2022 (where one in three students state that they are lonely). Even if you have people around you in student housing, it can be difficult to connect with others. An important part of SSN's brief to the architects in the preliminary project was to facilitate increased social contact.

Lisbeth Varpe at SSN is the project manager for the new student housing in Porsgrunn.

– We know that many people want student accommodation with their own kitchen and bathroom, which is why we build most of these units. We also know that it can be difficult to get to know your neighbors when you live like this. That's why we are now building six common rooms in connection with these flats, so that residents with their own kitchen can meet and spend time together in their own living rooms, says Lisbeth Varpe, project manager at SSN.

At Campus Porsgrunn Student Housing, flats that do not have their own kitchen will have a shared kitchen with a dining area and a living room with a TV corner for seven residents. The number of shared kitchens is based on feedback from SSN's resident surveys, which indicate that the optimal number of residents in a shared kitchen is six to eight.

There will also be a shared roof terrace, a cinema room on the fifth floor and a large common room on the ground floor. Outdoors, there will be a table tennis table, barbecue area and several small meeting places. At the bicycle parking area (under roof), there will also be a bike repair station where you can fix your bike.

🎨 Can colors increase wellbeing?

Yes, we think so.

That's why the new Campus Porsgrunn Student Housing will be colored both indoors and outdoors. Red will run like a red thread (yep) from the stones outside, up the wall on the ground floor and extend into the building, where some floors, doors and walls will get a warm red color. All living areas will have color on the walls and the dorms will have a warm, neutral wall color that will also be carried through to the ceiling.

Red concrete pillars and floors create a warm expression, and the red will be recognizable from the outside to the inside of the new student residences. Also, the red will be repeated in the cladding on the rooftop terrace.

Hope for more activity on campus

– There are many students with different needs on Campus Porsgrunn, says Porsgrunn student Emma Holt.

Emma Holt is a student in Porsgrunn and the new chairman of SSN's board from June 1, 2024.

Emma is studying child welfare at USN Campus Porsgrunn and is the student leader for HS (health and social sciences) on her campus. She has also served as deputy chair of SSN's board for the past year, and was recently elected as the new chair of SSN's board. She therefore knows both Campus Porsgrunn, the students in Porsgrunn and SSN well.

She continues:

– The students who move to Porsgrunn are often young students with both a need and a desire for a social environment around them and on campus. Porsgrunn is a place of study that recently seems to have a lot of focus and commitment from its students to strengthen student life around the student house Fabrikken on campus.

The new student housing will "embrace" the student house Fabrikken, which is sketched as a grey square in the middle of the Campus Porsgrunn Student Housing.

– I must point out that there are divided opinions among the students in Porsgrunn about the new student housing, but it seems that many think that it might be nice that it is being built on campus, so that those who live there can walk to lectures and fewer need to use cars or public transport. There are also students who believe and hope that the focus on social life after "school hours" can lead to even more progress with housing right next to the student house, concludes Emma.

The new Campus Porsgrunn Student Housing will be ready in May 2025, and applications to live here will open during the winter of 24/25. Read more about the building in this article.

Check out student housing in Porsgrunn