Design showcase: York St John University

York St John University’s new creative centre is a state-of-the-art reflection of the provider’s “ambition and optimism” – and a space for disciplines to mix

Project details

Project: York St John University, New Creative Centre

Location: YSJU, Lord Mayor’s Walk Campus, York

Timescale: Planning achieved May 2019/completion summer 2021

Contract value: £15.6m

Team details

Architects: Tate Harmer

QS & project managers: Robinson
Low Francis

M&E engineer: Atelier Ten

Structural engineer: Atelier One

Acoustic & theatre consultant: Sound Space Vision

Access consultant: Sensory Trust

Landscape architect: Colour

Planning consultant: McKenzie
Town Planning

Contractor: TBC

Client: YSJU


York St John University
An atrium space will serve as a ‘mixing valve’

A new creative centre for York St John University comprises 2,600 sqm of flexible teaching space, a 210-seat auditorium, a recital hall, critical listening theatre and 550 sqm of adaptable breakout space. The scheme has been designed to allow for prefabricated construction and a huge range of future adaptability due to York St John’s dynamic curriculum, as well as potential expansion of an additional 1,500 sqm of teaching space. 

The auditorium will be an incredibly flexible space with retractable seating. It will support a broad range of potential performances including multi-disciplinary and technology-driven creative collaborations. The new auditorium will become a beacon signalling both to students and the community what YSJU do so well, and where they want to go in the future.

Linking the teaching spaces and auditorium will be an atrium space creating three levels of communal area and breakout space, effectively acting as a ‘mixing valve’ between creative disciplines. This will be enclosed by a CLT timber roof with large roof lights. The communal mixing valve space will connect on the western side of the building with the existing Design Centre. A new landscaped street is created linking all existing and proposed buildings forming an integrated, verdant, easy-to-navigate centre to the campus. 

The project is due for completion in spring 2021.

“Building a new Creative Centre at York St John University demonstrates our commitment to investing in our campus, the city and the student experience here in York,” said Rob Hickey, chief operating officer at York St John University.

“In addition to offering space for community use, it will provide innovative teaching space for specialist subjects like computer science, theatre and media production that are so important for our region’s economy. We were impressed with Tate Harmer’s proposal for a vibrant, state-of-the-art creative centre that recognises the needs of future students. Their design was the standout winner for reflecting our ambition and optimism, making the most of the building’s position in the centre of campus and showcasing our location in the heart of the city.


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