Places & spaces: January 2021

Our monthly showcase of the latest developments for the modern university estate – from stunning new architecture to ingenious interior design

Main image: Béton House, University of Sheffield. Photo by Louise Melchior

The University of Sheffield/Sheffield Hallam University

Part of the iconic Park Hill Estate in Sheffield has been redeveloped as student housing (see main image).

The Grade II*-listed social housing estate was built in the Brutalist style between 1957 and 1961, and has been used as a filming location for Doctor Who, This Is England ’90 and an Arctic Monkeys video.

Now, developer Urban Splash has brought together a raft of creative talent – including Whittam Cox Architects, student housing developer Alumno, and design studios BK Design, Brinkworth and Graphic Thought Facility – to turn one wing into new homes for students.

A Le Corbusier-informed colour scheme, inside and out, was inspired by the orange, green, scarlet and mustard tones of a glass mosaic adorning the former estate pub. Furniture is bespoke, along with a selection of original Scandinavian pieces, and external corridors carry phrases, picked out in bold graphics, relating to the history of the site.

The block has been renamed Béton House after the French word for raw concrete – Béton brut – the modernist architect’s go-to building material.

“I’ve known Park Hill estate since visits to Sheffield in the early 1990s and have sadly watched it deteriorate over time,” said Kevin Brennan, partner at Brinkworth. “So it was a real honour for me to be so involved with the resuscitation of this beautiful brute.”


University of Liverpool

There’s something of a Mondrian painting about the striking new facade that’s been received by a student accommodation block at the University of Liverpool.

The Roscoe building in the Greenbank Student Village is part of a five-year, £90m redevelopment scheme on Merseyside that will increase the university’s student accommodation capacity by 40% and provide new social and administration areas and sports facilities.
The distinctive, colourful new exterior comes courtesy of ventilated rainscreen cladding and render from specialist suppliers Sto, working with contractor Precision Facades – who also installed a series of coloured aluminium pods to enhance the window surrounds – and the University of Liverpool Construction Company (ULCOO).

As well as harmonising with its surroundings and offering excellent fire protection, the facade also involves a patented microstructure surface, similar to that found on the lotus leaf, ensuring it should retain its spotless good looks for a long time


University of Leeds/Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Council has green-lit a new student residence and art space in the city.

Designed by architects Howarth Litchfield, and built by student housing specialists Alumno, the mixed-use, six- and seven-storey, 11,955m2 building will house 411 students in 53 studios and a range of four- to eight-bedroom cluster flats.

There will also be communal areas – including a central hub, gym, study, cinema, laundry room, roof terrace with garden, and bicycle storage – as well as flexible gallery and studio space for emerging artists, which will be managed by a local non-profit arts organisation.

Alumno has also commissioned artworks for the public areas surrounding the development.

Alumno MD David Campbell said: “We believe this development will be a great addition to this emerging, creative district and will offer significant regeneration benefits at a crucial time. It will also assist in providing more housing options, particularly to local people by alleviating the need for students to rent family homes privately in the area.”


ARU Peterborough

Planning permission has now been granted for phase one of Anglia Ruskin University’s new Peterborough campus.

The project transforms a grotty, 400-space car park into a verdant, accessible landscaped campus, providing places for people to enjoy and for nature to flourish.

The £30m building comprises 5,300m2 of higher education facilities including spaces for large collaborative lectures, specialist skills, study, library, workspaces and general teaching. The campus is expected to open its doors to 2,000 students in September 2022 with plans to expand it to 12,500 students by 2030.

MCW Architects are appointed as masterplanner and architect as part of a Mace-led multi-disciplinary team. Bowmer and Kirkland have been appointed as preferred contractor under a two-stage design and build procurement process.

Anglia Ruskin vice-chancellor Roderick Watkins said in July 2020 that his institute would “design and deliver a outstanding, bespoke modern university for Peterborough… with courses that reflect employer need as well as student demand”.


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