The Room

An Exploration of Personal Space


  • Paul Kuitenbrouwer TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


The student room has developed from a ‘cell’ (in cloisters, prisons, hospitals and hospices) into a fully equipped ‘hotel room’ with its own bathroom. This essay explores the development of the student room from the perspective of the personal space of the smallest living unit, based on a series of emblematic projects in Europe and the USA that have been realized over the past 100 years. What does the shell of the student’s personal space consist of? Is that personal space shared with a roommate? And how does the student relate socially to other students in the hallway, in the accommodation building, in the dorm? In typological terms, the spatial material of student housing is simply organized in the building plan as a series of cells, rooms or units along a corridor that connects them to each other. Usually the rooms are located on both sides of the corridor in order to optimize the organization of the geometrically arranged floor plan. The bulk of the residential programme is supplemented by larger, collective spaces that deviate from this pattern. This design can be traced back to the functional organization of the cloister.

Author Biography

Paul Kuitenbrouwer, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Paul Kuitenbrouwer graduated in 1988 as an architect from the Faculty of Architecture of Delft University of Technology. Since then he worked for, among others, Wiel Arets and Jo Coenen, for whom he was deputy supervisor of the Sphinx-Céramique site in Maastricht. In 2001 he followed Coenen, who was appointed Dutch Government Architect, to The Hague. Since 2006, he has been an assistant professor associated with the Chair of Architecture and Dwelling of Delft University of Technology; he has conducted research into high-density low-rise housing (Intense Laagbouw) and student housing (bouwjong!), teaches both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree design studios and analysis seminars with an emphasis on typology, density and the urban context, and is an editor of DASH. In addition, he has taught at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture (2009-2012) and since 2016 teaches at the Maastricht Academy of Architecture. Since 2017, he is also a member of the Board of Examiners for Architects at The Dutch Architect’s Register Agency in The Hague.