Top 7 Campus Design Trends Revolutionizing HigherEd in 2024

June 20, 2024

Universities & Colleges

campus design trends

Campus design trends in 2024 are transforming higher education environments, driven by evolving student demographics, technology advancements and a strong emphasis on creating inclusive and engaging campuses. These trends go beyond mere aesthetics, but rather focus on technology-driven, smart, sustainable and student-centric campus environments.  

This trend is even more crucial given the latest data by National Center for Education Statistics, where overall undergraduate numbers dropped slightly and the growth in adult learners (25+) emphasize the importance of creating versatile campus spaces that cater to diverse students. 

Design Trends That Are Making Waves

Here are the top 7 higher education campus design trends and campus design ideas in 2024.

1. Emphasis on Flexible Learning Spaces

In 2024, university campuses are increasingly prioritizing flexible learning environments that can be easily adapted to diverse teaching and learning methods, empowering both students and educators. These spaces are designed to be modular, allowing for quick reconfiguration to support different learning styles, whether it be traditional lectures, individual or group study. For example, the study “Classroom perception in higher education: The impact of spatial factors on student satisfaction in lecture versus active learning classrooms,” has demonstrated better student performance and satisfaction in flexible learning environments. 

Harvard University’s Science and Engineering Complex in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a beautiful new facility that features flexible learning spaces and labs that can be easily reconfigured to suit different teaching and research needs.

2. Integration of Technology-Enhanced Spaces

Source: Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab

As per  WiFiTalents statistics “90% of higher education institutions consider VR an essential part of their future educational strategy.” Campuses are introducing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to enrich their campus and education experience. Smart boards are replacing traditional whiteboards and digital signage is offering dynamic and interactive information throughout the campus. For example, Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab in Stanford, California uses VR to study human behaviour and improve learning experiences through immersive technology. 

In addition to integrating classroom-focused technology, many universities are leveraging location-based technology to enhance on-site navigation and create a user-friendly campus experience. For example, the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario has integrated Mapsted’s advanced location-based services to make it possible for everyone to navigate the campus with confidence and ease. An easily downloadable app guides students, staff, faculty and visitors across the sprawling campus with turn-by-turn instructions. Moreover, the technology offers a voice-guided navigation feature, highlighting wheelchair-friendly routes and providing detailed information about accessible entrances and facilities.

3. Sustainable and Green Design Practices

campus design trends

Source: Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability

Sustainability is a growing focus in campus design trends 2024. Universities are aiming to reduce their environmental footprint. This includes the use of eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient systems and the incorporation of green spaces that promote wellness and sustainability. These initiatives reduce environmental impact and also educate students about sustainable practices. A prime example is the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is known for its green building practices. 

The facility has achieved LEED Platinum certification and numerous sustainability awards. It has a sustainable modern design which includes rainwater harvesting, solar panels, regenerative elevator, green roof and natural ventilation systems.

4. Health and Wellness-Oriented Designs

campus design trends

Source: Cornell Tech Campus

Creating an environment that is welcoming and supports the physical and mental well-being of students has become a priority for many higher education facilities in 2024. This includes the design of spaces that encourage physical activity, provide access to natural light and incorporate natural elements such as indoor plants and green walls. Research shows that exposure to the outdoors and natural light can lead to better mood, reduced stress and improved cognitive function.

Cornell Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City, for example, integrates wellness-oriented design, including extensive green spaces and wellness facilities, to promote the health and wellness of its community.

5. Enhanced Outdoor Learning Environments

Source: Duke University

Outdoor spaces are increasingly being utilized for learning, providing a refreshing alternative to traditional indoor classrooms. Not surprisingly, research by the National Library of Medicine and ScienceDirect reveal that outdoor learning significantly improves student engagement, critical thinking and creativity skills. 

These environments are designed to support various educational activities, from outdoor lectures to hands-on environmental science projects. Duke University’s Smart Home project in Durham, North Carolina, features outdoor classrooms and labs featuring rainwater collection systems, solar panels and interactive displays that support sustainability education and hands-on learning in a natural setting. 

6. Focus on Community and Collaboration

campus design trends

Source: MIT Stata Center

Many contemporary university campuses design feature numerous collaborative spaces designed to foster community, innovation and cooperation among students and faculty. Institutes are aiming for open-plan study areas, communal lounges and multipurpose spaces for a variety of activities that give students the sense of community on campus. 

The MIT’s Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a perfect example of this trend. Its unique architecture promotes collaboration and interaction, with shared facilities, open spaces and flexible layouts that promotes serendipitous encounters and spontaneous collaboration. 

7. Anticipating Future Needs with Adaptable Infrastructure

campus design trends

Source: Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania 

Designing university campuses with future adaptability in mind is essential for keeping pace with the technological trends and changing educational approaches. This involves creating infrastructure that can be easily updated or expanded as needed. For example, the Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  is a teaching hospital and medical school that features modular construction enabling quick reconfiguration to meet future needs.  

These future trends in campus facility design are essential, ensuring longevity and relevance in educational environments.


These higher education design trends are being adopted by colleges and universities of all sizes to meet the needs of modern day students and technology. By equipping their campus with smart technology solutions, sustainability, inclusivity, student-centered spaces, better engagement, data-driven management and flexible learning spaces, universities can create efficient, vibrant and future-ready campuses.

Ready to take your campus into the future? See Mapsted in action! Watch our video on Indoor Navigation for University Campuses or read our informative blog on 5 Ways Technology Increases Student Engagement in Higher Education to learn more about how Mapsted is revolutionizing the way students learn and navigate on campus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do flexible learning spaces benefit students and educators?

Ans. Flexible learning spaces are transforming the educational experience for both students and educators. They can accommodate different learning styles and activities, which can allow more personalized, active learning, collaboration and engagement. These adaptable spaces can be easily reconfigured to meet the requirements of students and faculty, ensuring a more efficient, dynamic and adaptable learning environment.

Q2. What are the pros of technology-enhanced spaces in HigherEd?

Ans. Among the higher ed design trends, technology-enhanced spaces like AR and VR labs, provide learning experiences, making complex concepts easy to understand. Smart classrooms equipped with the latest interactive technology tools lead to engaging and interactive teaching methods.

Q3. Why is the sustainability factor important in campus design?

Ans. Sustainable university campus design is not just a mere trend, it is about creating a healthier, greener and more responsible environment for everyone in the campus. Moreover, it serves as an educational experience for students and can help them minimize their ecological footprint. The features included are renewable energy sources, eco-friendly building materials and carrying out practices that reduce waste and conserve resources.

Q4. In what ways does Mapsted technology improve the accessibility of university campuses?

Ans. Mapsted is leading the charge to make campuses more accessible for everyone. Its cutting-edge technology includes voice-guided navigation and wheelchair-friendly routes, ensuring that all students, including those with disabilities, can navigate the campus easily and independently.

Q5. Why is it important to include health and wellness-oriented designs in campus planning?

Ans. Health and wellness-oriented designs support the physical and mental well-being of students which is the need of the hour. By providing spaces that promote physical activity, access to natural light and biophilic elements. Overall, these designs help in reducing stress and improve overall health.

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