Colourful interiors, morning yoga sessions and student bake-offs are as important as bricks and mortar at a new set of University of Wollongong dorms designed according to the principles of positive psychology.
The concept, a collaboration between two psychologists, is a world first and has piqued the interest of a bevy of international researchers eager to examine the dorms’ inner workings.
The buildings – two seven-level towers within Kooloobong Village, on the western boundary of UOW’s main campus – were completed in March and July and officially opened last Thursday.
Inside, doors and decor are a different colour on each of the levels, which are named after principles of positive psychology including vitality (blue), thrive (green), happy (yellow), flourish (orange), connect (purple) and flow (pink).
The concept is the brainchild of Lindsay Oades, director of the Australian Institute for Business Wellbeing at UOW’s Sydney Business School, and Alison Hemsley, UOW’s student residence manager. Psychology had historically looked at what was wrong with people, but positive psychology began by finding what was right with them, and aimed to leverage the positives to increase their wellbeing, Ms Hemsley said.
The vivid colour scheme at the new dorms was intended to elicit positive emotions.
‘‘I think aesthetics have quite a lot of impact on your wellbeing,’’ Ms Hemsley said.
‘‘When people are in places that are abrasive or aggressive they tend to shut down and contract in the ways they see the world.’’
Kooloobong Village includes several older buildings and holds 553 students in total.
More than 500 students have already applied to become residents next year, when UOW for the first time will guarantee a place in university accommodation to all first-year students.
A one-bedroom studio in the self-catered new accommodation costs $255 a week or $217 for a bedroom within a four-bedroom unit.
Ninan Mathew, the village’s program co-ordinator, said students had responded well to the program of activities, which included Monday morning ‘‘yoghurt and yoga’’, movie nights, tea parties and fitness classes.
‘‘We have some sort of event on every day so students are encouraged to get out of their rooms and get involved,’’ he said.