UoW West Downs Building, Winchester Campus, Hampshire Higher Education Facility Photos
University of Winchester West Downs Building, UK
New Campus Building in Hampshire by Design Engine Architects, England
19 May 2021
University of Winchester West Downs Building
Architect: Design Engine Architects
Location: University of Winchester, Winchester, Hampshire, South East England, UK
Design Engine have unveiled a new Jim Stephenson-directed film and images of the £40m landmark West Downs Centre at the University of Winchester. The building was completed and handed over to the university during the 2020 lockdown and will be fully operational for the 2021/2022 academic year. It is home to the Digital Technologies computer and digital related degree programmes and business and management programmes. Facilities include a drum-shaped 250-seat auditorium, art gallery, café, food hall, shop, library, social learning areas and teaching spaces.
The site for the new building is alongside one of the main arterial routes into Winchester which was originally the line of a Roman road that radiated out from the centre of City. This site offered the University a unique opportunity to have a very strong visible presence which hitherto had not been possible from their main King Alfred Campus.
The new building is placed within the site to make best use of the existing topography and comprises three juxtaposed parts, with each volume expressing its unique function. A linear block of classrooms and teaching facilities offer a background canvas against which the
circular lecture theatre is placed, with the triangular roof sheltering the social learning and library spaces completing the composition, creating an enclosing edge to whole site.
The front entrance wall is clad in knapped flint (the bond echoes those typically found in Hampshire). This element protects the Library and Garden as well as guiding visitors into the entrance, the reception desk, gallery and café. The central garden (Hortus Conclusus) allows light and air to flow into the majority of the surrounding ground floor internal spaces, whilst offering views from inside the garden. The planting, pond and waterfall significantly lessen the acoustic impact of the busy main road whilst contributing to the sense of tranquillity.
Designed to reflect the core values of the university and rather presciently given the ongoing effect of the pandemic on mental health, it was important that the building focussed on the well-being of the individual. In addition to targeting BREEAM Excellent status, the West
Downs Centre is one of the first university projects in the UK to be registered to pursue WELL Certification, an accreditation scheme which recognises buildings that support and advance human health and wellbeing.
This approach led to the client exploring different aspect of the brief to see how they could provide wider support for the staff and students. This process resulted in a number of key objectives becoming part of the main brief: the central water garden, the gallery, vegan cafe, inclusion of artwork and the Contemplation Space. Initially the Contemplation Space was included to ensure all faiths and non-faiths could find a space to use at the heart of the new building.
However, as the project developed it became clear that this space was also well suited to allow students and staff ‘time off’ from the stresses of university life.Winchester is the first UK university to secure green finance for campus development, with a £30m loan from Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank. The building would be awarded WELL Certification by IWBI after rigorous testing and a final evaluation by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which is the third-party certification body for WELL, to ensure it meets all WELL performance requirements.
Richard Jobson, Design Engine Founding Director, said: “Whilst the practice is very proud to have been creating sustainable buildings for the last 20 years there is always more to do and it is therefore great to announce that this new building has been designed to the WELL Building Standard. The project will still reach BREEAM Excellent but will now be supported by WELL which starts to refocus sustainability towards people as much as buildings.”
Photography: Jim Stephenson
Design Engine’s University of Winchester West Downs Building becomes first UK campus development to secure green finance.
Previously on e-architect:
7 Jul 2018
University of Winchester West Downs Campus
University of Winchester West Downs Campus Design
Design Engine’s new landmark West Downs Building at the University of Winchester has secured a £30 million loan from Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank. This is the first UK higher education project to secure green finance and the support from Triodos will ensure that the development, which includes a 250-seat auditorium and will increase teaching and support floor space by 20 per cent, will be completed for the 2019-2020 academic year.
The new building boasts cutting-edge sustainability features including:
• Combined heat and power plant
• Heat recovery systems
• Solar photovoltaic panels
• Rainwater harvesting
• Green roof
• Bat and bird boxes to promote biodiversity
• All electricity used to power the building will be bought from renewable sources
Once complete, the building promises to achieve a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating in sustainability and contribute to the University’s ambition to become the most sustainable higher education institution in the UK.
The £50m development will also feature an art gallery, café, food hall, library and social learning areas and will house the University’s Digital Futures computer and digital-related degree programmes.
Professor Joy Carter CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester said: “We think it’s incredibly important that higher education institutions take social responsibility seriously. That’s why we put our ambition to be the most sustainable university in the UK at the centre of all the decisions we make. It is reflected in everything we do from the courses we offer, to the business decisions we make.
“This project – the most ambitious in our history – typifies our commitment to this cause and is made even better by receiving funding from such a like-minded and values-driven bank.”
The University projects that the highly-efficient new building will help to deliver its ambitious interim 2025 carbon reduction targets, having already achieved a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by floor area across its estate since 2006/07.
Richard Jobson, Design Engine Founding Director, said: “Creating sustainable buildings is at the core of Design Engine’s work which has been consistently demonstrated by delivering numerous BREEAM ‘Excellent’ buildings over recent years. It is therefore incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to continue our work with the University of Winchester (who are seeking to be one of the most sustainable universities in the UK) and design their most ambitious project to date whilst also reaching BREEAM ‘Outstanding’. It is also comforting to know that the sustainable efforts made by the design team is taken right through to how it is funded through Green Finance with Triodos Bank.”
About the University of Winchester
The University of Winchester is a leading university for teaching excellence and was shortlisted for University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2017. Our primary and secondary initial teacher training programmes are rated outstanding by Ofsted (December 2017).
Founded in 1840 the University offers undergraduate and postgraduate study on a range of subjects within the arts, humanities, social sciences, business, law, sport, education, and health and social care. The University received the British Quality Foundation UK Excellence Award 2016 in recognition of excellence across its operations. It also received the BQF Sustainable Future Achievement Award 2016 for outstanding environmental or social contribution to achieving a more sustainable world.
About Triodos Bank
Triodos Bank is a global pioneer in sustainable banking using the power of finance to invest in projects that are good for people and the planet. Triodos uses its €14.5 billion (2017) in assets to create social, environmental and cultural value in a transparent and sustainable way.
With UK operations based in Bristol, Triodos Bank has branches in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany and an agency in France. Globally, Triodos Bank has microfinance projects in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and is a founding member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a worldwide network of 43 banks seeking to transform finance into a vehicle of positive influence.
University of Winchester West Downs 1
The University is experiencing a time of unprecedented uncertainty in the higher education sector and is very aware of the challenges of public funding, of demography and of increased competition nationally and globally in the context of deregulation of student number controls.
In response the University of Winchester has developed a strategic plan that considers the longer trends within the higher education sector, but importantly reflects on a most urgent problem – sustainability.
For the University to realise its strategic priorities and remain at the forefront of higher education, it needs to improve its existing facilities and the overall campus, making it an automatic choice for undergraduates.
The master-planning exercise revealed that in order for the University to achieve an improved estate, it must first provide additional accommodation to decant faculties and occupiers currently residing in buildings identified for future redevelopment.
West Downs 1 is a new £50m 7,500 m2 project which will provide the University with an impressive new gateway building to the City whilst delivering flexible academic accommodation, public facing lecture and exhibition facilities and social learning spaces.
Located on an undeveloped site adjacent to the University’s Grade II-listed Business School, the new scheme is designed to set it within the wider context of the City of Winchester and its historic and contemporary public buildings.
A linear block of classrooms and teaching facilities sets a background rhythm against which a grand lecture theatre takes the form of a rotunda. A pavilion under a triangular roof shelters the social learning and library spaces.
The pavilion is irregular in plan and contrasts with the linear block acting as an inflection in the plan to highlight its relative importance.
The building responds to the sloping landscape with a terrace of stepped parterres radiating from the rotunda, setting the linear and radial planning in counterpoint. This response to the topography shows how the planning strategy inflects in response to the particularities of the site.
The complex compositional balance which brings together linear, radial and angular planning is achieved through the careful juxtaposition of each. Each volume expresses its unique function whilst the overall composition in setting the three organisational arrangements against each other provides a visual tension whose balance, like an abstract painting, is achieved.
The compositional arrangement of the triangular entrance pavilion with over-sailing roof has strong directional emphasis when seen in perspective. The solidity and visual stability of the rotunda contrasts with the dynamic emphasis of the open entrance canopy framing the sky.
The new buildings will echo the materiality of the West Downs Centre and the typical materials used in civic buildings within Winchester. This will be achieved through a material strategy which uses flint, limestone and terracotta with contemporary detailing, while the deployment of weathering steel cladding, particularly on the striking drum of the circular lecture theatre tonally links the new building with the brick colour in the existing listed West Downs Centre.
Once complete, West Downs 1 will also become the catalyst to create ‘breathing space’ in the estate’s building stock to allow movement and improvement of existing facilities and unlocking further phases of the ongoing masterplan which will implement the University’s campus vision through to 2025.
The new West Downs development will be completed by Summer 2019.
University of Winchester West Downs Building – Building Information
Title: University of Winchester West Downs 1
Location: West Downs Campus, University of Winchester
Type of project: Higher Education
Client: University of Winchester
Architect: Design Engine Architects
Landscape Architect: LUC (Land Use Consultants Ltd.)
Structural Engineer: Heyne Tillett Steel
M&E Consultant: Mecserve
Quantity Surveyor: Jackson Coles
Lighting consultant: Michael Grubb Studio
Pre-Construction: Contractor Osborne
Funding: Triodos Bank
Tender date: March 2017
Start on site date: September 2017
Completion date: September 2019
Contract duration: 2 years
Gross internal floor area: 7500 m2
Form of contract: D&B
Total cost: £30m
University of Winchester West Downs Building images / information received 060718
Location: University of Winchester, Winchester, Hampshire, UK
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