Warwick Student Union, Warwickshire Architecture, Architects, English Higher Education Project News

Warwick Students Union: Building

Warwick Students Union Building, Warwickshire design by MJP Architects, England, UK

19 Apr 2011

Design: MJP Architects

Warwick Students Union Building

Warwick Students Union, University Building
photograph © Peter Durant

New Warwick Students Union Building

The original building was designed as a multi- purpose administrative building whose brief was changed to a Students’ Union whilst under construction. Since then it had become even less suitable for today’s requirements, having neither the flexibility nor the environmental performance to accommodate the range of activities expected of a modern Students’ Union building.

Warwick Students Union Warwick Students Union
photographs © Peter Durant

Sculpting into the existing

The Students’ Union is the primary provider and organiser of non-academic activity within the University, and its success has a significant impact upon the experience of students within the University. Furthermore, the size, scale and reputation of the SU facility is a major factor in prospective students’ choice of HE institution. The strategy for the new SU was to create a series of spaces of diverse scale and character to host the required uses including a multi- purpose space, atrium, pub and music club.

The existing building has been opened up to create impressive 2- and 3- storey high spaces and open internal vistas and views out. New design was generated from the most striking features of the existing building: the arrangement of interiors based on the triangular module and the triangular concrete coffer slabs. The new cafe extension is the most pronounced example of this approach. It’s interiors are based on the triangular plan and floating roof’s shiny underside provide a striking backdrop to the Students’ Union plaza.

Warwick Students Union Warwick Students Union Warwick Students Union
photographs © Peter Durant


The highly rational structure of the existing building and the rough and heavy expression of the concrete slabs and walls provided inspiration for the building redesign. Exposing or hiding the original fabric and and using materials that contrast or blend with it were the basic strategies in the interior design. Large surfaces of shiny copper, light and translucent polycarbonate, soft and warm timber and rough and cold ‘asphalt terrazzo’ were exposed against the in-situ concrete and concrete blocks to enhance the expression of the original structure and hide the areas of lower quality.

“MJP were vital in helping us to reconcile our brief for a quality, flexible environment with the constraints of the University’s Capital Programme.”
Darren Walter
Commercial Development Manager,
University of Warwick Students Union

“The building is truly phenomenal and exactly as envisioned… and will deliver student and commercial services like never before.”
Claire Horton, General Manager, Students’ Union

Warwick Students Union images / information from MJP Architects


Location: Warwick, Warwickshire, central England, United Kingdom

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