The aim was to transform the existing concourse so it became the heart of the university. The space was ‘hard’, unwelcoming and underused. Our brief was to create an environment where people congregated, close to their lecture halls, bringing life to the concourse. Our ambition was to create the character of a sophisticated, professional space that was easy to maintain and one that would contribute to the sense of identity becoming a core feature of the university for generations to come.
The concourse was long, thin, and at certain times of the day, very congested. Any interventions needed to be carefully considered to ensure people stopped in certain areas and didn’t block the flow of pedestrian traffic.
By investigation, we spent many hours observing how the users interacted with the space and interviewing students, teaching staff and those managing the space to create a document that summarised all key issues.
We began with a detailed analysis of the concourse, followed by a scheme design the aim was transform the main thoroughfare into the spine of the university.
To create consistency throughout the concourse, we worked with a design language that could be repeated throughout the space using natural materials and a simple colour scheme built around the university’s principal colour, navy blue. Our aim was to add small interventions to enable socialising, learning and teaching and to encourage users to take ownership of the space, without making major incursions that would need university permissions.
We constructed ways to make the space green with sustainable and easy to manage planters, integrated the recycling and wayfinding, whilst managing the acoustic impact associated with the additional activities. Additional lighting, compliant with the building services department’s strict criteria, was selected, which incorporated additional glare-control for use in the large internal courtyard spaces.
Working with our sub-consultant, the scheme design also included a cost plan and phasing programme.