by Luke Johnson, Eric Lee, Ehsan Khoshsima and Kai Wong
The design for the new student accommodation buildings responds to the University’s brief to create a secure yet playful environment.
By creating a space for students to live at the centre of the campus for the first time in 2021 brings movement and life to the University throughout the entire day. The brand new, highly secure Student Accommodation buildings are situated on Gymnasium Road. The design responds to the University’s brief to steer away from a corporate feel and create a playful environment. The full project will be rolled out across three stages, with the first achieving practical completion in January 2021. Stage 1 includes 342 beds of what will be a 1,000-bed development across five buildings. Organised across two buildings, with each housing 171 beds, it is large enough to create variation and atmosphere while not still supporting a sense of community.
The project is a beautifully detailed residential offering that accommodates the students’ varied needs. There are individual studio apartments, double-occupancy shared rooms, and up to 6-bedroom apartments, which allows for share houses to exist within the complex. Each room is spacious and equipped with a dine-in kitchen, bathroom, bookshelves, a secure wardrobe and storage space, bed, and individual desks. The building provides bike storage, end-of-trip facilities and bathrooms, a multi-function room and an entertainment room with table tennis and pool tables.
The apartments overlook the newly landscaped gardens and communal socialising area that is fitted with a barbeque and extend out to the woodlands beyond the campus. The buildings are architecturally organised with access to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Indoors, there are lounges and small café-style seating, for eating or studying, split across levels, and joined by a large spiral staircase. An abundance of natural daylight filters through the large skylight – which conjoins the two buildings – and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views and natural ventilation.
The University recognises that social isolation can be an issue, particularly for students who have travelled from different countries and live on campus. To counteract this, the new Student Accommodation buildings offers spaces for communities to be formed and friendships to flourish. It offers high-quality pastoral care to focus on the residents’ wellbeing, both as individuals and a collective. A senior student, known as a Guardian, lives on each of the four floors, and looks out for the wellbeing of their peers and fostering a sense of inclusion for students from diverse cultural backgrounds. To encourage connectedness, communal kitchens, dining areas and games rooms promote a collegiate and open environment. Two communal rooms on each floor are equipped with large-screen televisions and lounges to encourage film or board game nights among the residents.
These premium Student Accommodation buildings offer an attractive association with on-campus living. The earthy colours, materials and proportions make the buildings welcoming and creates a sense of belonging instead of feeling transient. It is a stark contrast with student accommodation that is often too tight and drab, with outdated furniture and spaces. The thoughtful and high-quality materials aim to give the students a sense of pride in their home.