Why You Should Consider Fiber Cement Siding for Your Student Housing Project
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Why You Should Consider Fiber Cement Siding for Your Student Housing Project

From the very first student cottages in the 19th century to today’s modern dormitories and on-campus apartments, student housing remains a pivotal part of the college experience. Student housing not only provides convenience, but also serves as the main venue for students to socialize, learn and experience their first taste of freedom. 

Student housing also encompasses a sizable portion of the real estate market and is a huge investment opportunity.  To ensure your property project is top-tier and has that wow factor, the amenities and building materials of your residential construction need to be durable, high-quality and innovative. 

The standards for residential buildings in the higher education space have drastically changed over the years with updates to building codes, requirements for accessibility and better energy efficiency offerings. Fortunately, the types of siding and other materials have evolved with time as well, and low maintenance options that look great are available to give you the most bang for your buck.

Exterior view of student housing with orange and gray exterior walls and a greenery-filled courtyard.

Growth in Student Housing

Since 2010, investment volumes in the student housing market have grown exponentially. Per CBRE and FinanceOnline, annual investments in student housing in the US have reached nearly $11 billion, which is triple what the volume was in 2014. 

Universities in the US expect to add roughly 47,000 beds over the next year for their students, and they’re going to need developers to meet that demand.

Street view of student housing highlighting new siding with stoplight and trees by the building.

Common Areas Create Collaboration and Increase Comfort

There are certain student housing trends that are rapidly on the rise, one of which is a new focus on common areas where students can congregate. Students want areas with modern design concepts that provide a living room atmosphere filled with cozy furniture, engaging study spaces, flexible lounges and high-tech laundry rooms. 

These are spaces where students can connect deeply with one another and not feel as isolated as within their dorm rooms and individual units.

Tall, brick student housing with trees and plants by the windows.

The Power of Amenities

To attract new students, housing designers and builders are being challenged to step up their amenity game with more alluring interior finishes. More luxurious amenities are now required to meet the expectations of eager students, including pools, state-of-the-art gyms and even rock climbing walls. 

In fact, pools at student facilities are becoming so popular and common that in order to stand out, developers are working tirelessly to create bigger and better pools by placing them in unique spots like the rooftop and offering speciality features such as poolside bars and lazy rivers.

 Multi-story student housing with balconies and orange, grey and brick exterior.

The Impact of Exterior Cladding

Just like with residential homes and multifamily complexes, exterior cladding can make a world of difference when it comes to creating a comforting and positive environment. While students are embarking on a new journey in a new place, the exterior of a building can have more of an impact on their experience than you think.

It’s not uncommon for new students to feel homesick when they go to college. Instead of having a building that looks uninviting and stagnant, make it look welcoming with new siding. Adding the look of real wood siding, with the same beauty but without the drawbacks of aluminum siding, vinyl siding, traditional wood or engineered wood, can bring the comfort of home to their day-to-day routine and make them feel less anxious about this new stage of life.

But while some students need comfort, other students might just need some cheering up from a busy schedule filled with classes, club meetings and study groups. What better way to do that than adding a bright, vibrant color to the space where they decompress?

Nichiha has the ability to provide those exact solutions for students. Fiber cement siding is the perfect choice for achieving a design to create a positive experience for new students. Nichiha’s Architectural Wall Panels and NichiProduct panels provide the look of metal, block, stone, wood and so much more, giving designers complete versatility and design flexibility.

Custom-color siding options are often used to create an enticing exterior on student housing facilities that raise interest and excitement among potential student dwellers. 

Education is the most obvious reason people go to college, so finding ways to spark the learning process perfectly aligns with the overall mission of the project. The color yellow is known to stimulate learning, so why not incorporate that into the building where students spend the most time?

Nichiha Illumination panels were recently incorporated into the dynamic Riverton Community Housing Cooperative for University of Minnesota students. When it came time to design the multi-story building, UrbanWorks Architecture didn’t want just any shade of yellow; they were looking for a very particular shade of yellow. 

Illumination's custom color choices proved to be the best solution as it provided the architect with precisely the yellow he was looking for and created the lively exterior needed to attract students to the facility.

A biker and pedestrian passing the multi-story student housing with yellow exterior.

In these projects where students are there to learn and grow, the environment that they're in can have a huge impact on their well-being, success and memories of the experience.

And not only do Nichiha panels create positive experiences and offer fantastic aesthetics, but they also provide multiple other benefits as well. To name a few, Nichiha offers durability, cost-effective pricing, easy installation, built-in rainscreens and fire protection.

Safety Standards

Safety is often an overlooked feature when it comes to siding choices, but remember, parents make just as much of a decision in student housing choices as their children do. 

Atlanta mom, Allison Cobb, was recently involved in the process of selecting student housing with her son, Hampton. Hampton started college at Georgia Southern University, and Allison was very interested in learning about the type of housing facilities available to her son. 

Allison shared her thoughts with us, saying, “As a mother, I want to ensure my son is comfortable in the space he will be living in. When looking at student housing facilities on campus, I was interested in seeing a modern building that provided him with updated rooms, large common areas for socializing and studying, and fun perks like a pool that would really make him feel at home. For my peace of mind, it was also important that the facility offered safety features such as a gated entry and well-lit parking and walkway.”

Nichiha’s fiber cement siding products provide an added layer of fire safety when used as part of any wall assembly with its one-hour fire rating. When it is exposed directly to flames, fiber cement will not add any fuel to a fire and will not cause combustion or spread flames. It has passed strenuous fire safety tests, like ASTM E-84 and NFPA 285, classifying it as a Class A building material

On top of student safety, building owners can also trust their investment is protected with Nichiha’s fiber cement, even in severe weather climates. Nichiha panels are tested to meet extreme weather conditions in all types of climates around the globe.

Parking lot view of student housing with brick exterior and large parking area.

Get Started With Nichiha Today

Architects will continue to produce creative spaces and high-end designs to attract students to live in university housing developments. Focusing on the factors that can make the largest impact, like exterior siding, often prove to be profitable in the long run. As the student body evolves over the years, so will the definition of the ‘wow’ factor as it reshapes to provide students with exactly what they are seeking.

Get started on creating that wow factor today with Nichiha fiber cement siding panels. Take a look at our commercial design gallery here for more inspiration and wall system ideas, or download our brochure of commercial cladding options here.

Categories: Performance, Projects

Student Housing Trends & Fiber Cement Exteriors

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