Places & spaces: August 2021

Julian Owen takes a look at innovative new developments on and around university campuses right now

ARU Peterborough

Although the first 2,000 students won’t walk through the doors of ARU Peterborough until September 2022, plans for the second phase of the development are already well under way. June saw unanimous approval given for MCW Architects’ £16.7m Manufacturing and Materials Research and Development Centre building, scheduled to open in summer 2023.

Standing on the site of a former car park and spread over three floors, the 3,300m² facility is set to offer flexible research and development space in areas including sustainable plastics, 3D printing, and battery manufacture.

“Our curriculum is being developed in conjunction with local and national employers, to meet their needs and support growth in the region,” said Professor Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough. “Having advanced manufacturing companies based on the ARU Peterborough campus promises to bring huge benefits to our students through placements, graduate employment and collaborative research.”


University of Edinburgh

Planning permission has been granted for a landmark building in Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, the rapidly growing community currently serving circa 40,000 people in more than 750 bioscience-related organisations.

Work was slated to begin in July on the Hassell-designed Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences, set to be utilised by both Usher users and commercial partners, from healthcare innovation SMEs to larger NHS tenancies.

Two workplace zones running the length of the building will be buffered by a series of shared offices and meeting rooms, to be split between research and partner work areas. The former will house around 60 researchers, each with dedicated academic and professional support, while the latter will enjoy a blend of standalone offices and managed co-working spaces.

The design will also include an open ground floor space incorporating an innovation hub with digital screen wall, learning studio, flexible event room and outreach room for community engagement.

Construction is due to be completed in July next year.


Staffordshire University London

The tech-centric offshoot of Stoke-based Staffordshire University is set to double its footprint in the capital. Founded in 2019 and serving 135 students taking courses related to high-growth digital industries, Staffordshire University London’s £3.5m expansion at Here East – the innovation and technology hub in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – will see it grow to almost 3,000m².

Once complete, the current course range – including e-sports, computer games design and cybersecurity – will be augmented by the likes of financial technologies, data science and AI. There are also plans to engage more broadly with the local community.

“Our number one priority is to create an exciting and vibrant campus where students and staff, alongside our external stakeholder partners, come together and truly ‘Create the Uncreated’,” said the man charged with overseeing the project, Matt Brindley-Sadler, director of Staffordshire University London. “Our focus is on collaborative working and harnessing new technologies to drive innovation.”


Chris Oglesby of Bruntwood SciTech with Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of The University of Manchester

University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is to partner with Bruntwood SciTech to deliver a £1.5bn innovation district.

The ID Manchester project will provide up to 10,000 jobs over the next 10–15 years and “play a vital role in the future of the UK science and technology sector”, the university said.

The university’s preferred bidder, Bruntwood SciTech, is a 50:50 joint venture between commercial property specialists Bruntwood and pensions firm Legal and General.

This has, to date, invested in nine regeneration programmes with universities including Oxford and Newcastle and local authorities in Cardiff and Sunderland.

The deal encompasses over 370,000 square metres of land adjacent to Piccadilly station, 65% of which will become a new commercial workspace on the Oxford Road corridor.

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