UCLan Student Centre & Square

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The architects Hawkins \ Brown were chosen via a national architectural competition to create a new £57 million civic square and student support centre for the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, as part of their comprehensive new UCLan Masterplan 2020. The design concepts presented by Hawkins\Brown, which has offices in Manchester and London, were selected by judges from seven shortlisted entries in the competition run by UCLan in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Hawkins\Brown’s design concept also received the most positive comments from members of the public in a series of exhibitions which ran alongside the competition. The landscape design is being developed by landscape architects Plincke. An integrated lighting artwork for the new university square is also being developed by Jason Bruges Studio.

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The Campus Masterplan 2020 Extract describes the new Student Centre and linked public realm front and back, as looking to: “…draw the City and the University together like never before. Creating a space with aesthetics mirroring Fishergate Preston, the project and its associated highways will generate a new vision for the Adelphi Quarter.

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The Student Centre building, the integral part of the £57million project, will create a much-needed gateway into campus, with a reception area and grab and go coffee shop to welcome staff, students and visitors alike.

Providing a home for the various student services at the University, the building will contain offices, meeting rooms, workstations and event venues including a roof top garden. This investment will help staff to continue the outstanding support they provide for students and welcome local communities into the University”….

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“A large square will extend in front of the building, designed for hosting large events including the Lancashire Science Festival, pop up cinemas, farmers markets and more. This square does not just belong to the University, but to the local community too. Lancashire’s societies, clubs and communities will be welcome to use the square to host their own events, creating a connectivity between the University and its surroundings.

In order to complete this project, some of the highways surrounding the University will be reconfigured. The University is working closely with Preston City Council and the Highways Agency, Lancashire County Council, to ensure that this is done in the most efficient way possible. Over the course of Summer 2017, we undertook a variety of public consultations to ask for feedback from all parties who will be affected by this change and alterations were made to the proposal.

In early January Preston City Council granted planning permission for this project with conditions attached to the highways works. The project team are now refining the highways scheme before being work in Summer 2018. We are expecting to see work on the Student Centre begin in 2019”….

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In their Building Design Concept Extract architects Hawkins\Brown state that: “…The building will feel like a student space rather than a departmental space. This sense of student ‘ownership’ will help to facilitate social interaction, collaboration and learning. Spaces have been designed to offer variety, from vibrant social spaces to quiet study areas.

The building is arranged to face the new Adelphi Square with a graceful, sweeping elevation, taking its alignment from the Adelphi Pub and the entrance to the new Engineering Building. The curving façade embraces the square with a high colonnade, offering shade and shelter and allowing a transition between inside and outside – drawing the square into the building. This space continues inside the building, with a full height open space.

A dramatic atrium forms the social heart of the Student Centre. This inspiring and egalitarian space is aligned to the spire of St Peter’s Church, with a wide set of steps and terraces negotiating the change in level. It will be a social space in itself, but can also be used for informal performances, talks or events.

The design has been influenced by the history of Preston’s textile industry, but more importantly its future, in aerospace and electronics. This is expressed in the idea of filaments, circuit routes, or threads – an analogy that also relates to the path that a student takes through life and learning at University.

The threads are used as an element both in the design of both landscape and building. They are used in the landscape as illuminated elements, drawing people toward the entrance of the building. The stepped central space of the building is a confluence through which the threads are guided, emerging in St Peter’s Square and continuing as a landscape element through the University”.