Places & spaces: September 2021

Julian Owen explores some of the most eye-catching new campus developments in the UK and beyond

University of York

Students at York Management School will return in September to an entirely new facility. Work began on the site – formerly the Smith & Nephew technical services building – in the autumn of 2019, before being delayed by the pandemic. With the school having outgrown its original premises, the design brief majored on simplicity and versatility, affording the institution the means to grow and evolve over time via changed layouts and rooms.

Teaching and learning spaces include lecture halls, study areas, multiple classrooms, numerous informal social spaces, dedicated space for PhD students, and café. Permit parking spaces are augmented by a number of electric vehicle charging points and bike storage.

Fitted out by Southerns Broadstock, the interior draws on Scandinavian influence to offer utilitarian furniture balancing form and function, with soft timber tones and muted natural palette, offset by dashes of colour to create bold focal points.



Plans have been submitted for Unite Students’ first net-zero carbon building, following a survey in which it found that students were more concerned about climate change than any other issue in 2021. Construction on the canal-side 1,400m² development in Paddington, London, is slated to begin next year, with more than a third of its 843 beds to be offered at an “affordable” rent level to young people who may not otherwise be able to attend university.

Part of Unite Students’ commitment to achieve net-zero carbon operations and construction by 2030, the development will comprise a series of stepped roof gardens and be powered by 100% renewable sources of heat and electricity. Rain will be harvested from the roof terraces, while up to 25 mature trees will also be planted around the perimeter. All told, claim Unite Students, the project will lead to an 850% increase in biodiversity on the site.


University of Worcester

Work has finally begun on turning one of Worcester’s largest buildings into student accommodation. More than three years since planning permission was first granted to convert the 1868-built former YMCA hostel, main contractor J Tomlinson has completed the strip-out on a project that will provide accommodation for 163 students.

Incorporating new-build as well as regeneration, Space Developments’ facility will include a blend of cluster flats and self-contained studios around a sizeable shared courtyard, with the main building delivering further communal areas and services.

The developer claims that all living spaces will contain spacious bedrooms, with the majority also offering en-suite bathrooms, kitchen and lounge areas.

“We’re delighted to be working with Space Developments on this sustainable student residence scheme that will provide high-quality, spacious accommodation to students from the start of the 2022/2023 academic year,” said Tony Shenton, director of J Tomlinson’s construction division.


University of Wolverhampton

Work is under way on the £3.9m refurbishment of two buildings at the University of Wolverhampton. Willmott Dixon Interiors has been commissioned to head the summer-long project, with almost 3,000m² flexible teaching space set to be available at the Wulfruna and Alan Turing buildings by the time students return in September.

The latter will house the new Wolverhampton Screen School, with courses such as computer game design and television production utilising facilities including a multipurpose studio, equipment media store, video studio, edit suites and new production space. Demolishing partition walls in the Wulfruna building, meanwhile, will mean larger, multipurpose teaching spaces for the university’s School of Pharmacy, together with a new reception, bespoke postgraduate teaching space and counselling rooms.

“We’ll be creating active spaces that will foster collaboration and teamwork, and provide a much-improved environment for people to learn in,” said Phil Crowther, regional director at Willmott Dixon Interiors.

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