How do you build peace into student accommodation?

Building ‘rural calm’ into modern student accommodation in a bustling London location is no easy feat, as Luke Engmann explains

Building ‘rural calm’ into modern student accommodation in a bustling London shopping and transport hub sounds hard. Add to that a regulation-beating CO2 emissions target and you’re asking a lot.

But that’s precisely what accommodation provider Unite Students asked of concept architects Building Design Partnership and detail design architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson when commissioning Angel Lane in Stratford.

“An unofficial theme of ‘Efficiency is Green’ evolved,” said Project Architect John Pedder (HCD). “Everything – the external materials, the management and the construction – had to be energy efficient and of high quality.

“The façade, for example, was built off-site with pre-fabricated insulated brick panels. The lighting is LED throughout. Water-saving and energy management technologies are built in. I really could go on…”

As of 10 September Angel Lane became home to 759 King’s College London students. The Russell Group University already partners with Unite for over 1,000 student beds elsewhere in the capital.

“Unite Students were the obvious partner to use,” said King’s real estate development director Ralph Luck OBE. “We have ambitious plans to increase student numbers over the next few years. Unite shares our commitment to providing a suitable environment for students to succeed.”

For Angel Lane the architects wanted to bring the countryside in. That meant, in part, a ground floor almost entirely screened with glass to allow pedestrians to view the courtyard lawn from street level, maximising its ‘active frontage’.

Architect John added: “The courtyard and all the roof terraces, bar one, include intensive green planting or biodiverse brown/sedum roof areas. Even the light buttercup yellow colour of the brickwork was chosen to contrast with the surrounding area and reflect sunlight into the external courtyard spaces.

“The layout of the courtyard was designed to receive the maximum sunlight, meaning approximately 98% of the students will receive more than their recommended average daylight.”

The result is a structure which has achieved BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard, and over 27% reduction in CO2 emissions against building regulations.

Angel Lane is Unite’s 28th London property.

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