The Hub, Coventry University\

A home from home

Pioneering new social learning and support facilities for Coventry University, including a multi-purpose venue, students' union, an art gallery, and retail units.

Coventry University wanted to transform the student experience at the city centre campus and help attract the best candidates alongside new investment and sponsorship from local industry. Existing facilities, including the Library and Student Union, were out-dated and in poor condition, and could no longer accommodate the growing student population. Our challenge was to create a new type of building - a 24-hour 'home from home' where students can access social learning and support facilities as well as retail and Students' Union.

“We are delighted with how well the building meets our brief. The Hub has been extremely well received by the University, our Board of Governors and Coventry City Council.”

Prof Gerry Ackerman, Coventry University

Encouraging interaction

The Hub was conceived as a ‘home’ on campus, giving students access to extensive social and learning zones as well as healthcare, counselling, advice on employment and enterprise opportunities. The facilities include a reception, music venue, bars, cafes and dining, wellbeing and support services, a multi faith centre, careers suite and retail units.

A key space in the building is the informal learning area: 2600sqm of flexible floor space to facilitate ad-hoc tutorials, socialising, and private study, which extends onto a generous roof terrace. The university-wide facility encourages cross-disciplinary interaction and peer-to-peer learning.

“This building was designed to be the beating heart of a city-centre university, a front door to everything. It works: it’s all here.”


The hub ground breaking

Pods and booths

Playful, bespoke pods and booths, and domestic interior design features help sub-divide the informal learning zone, providing intimate, comfortable enclosures for students to work and socialise. A state of the art, flexible IP backbone featuring wireless networking and a laptop loan service allows student access to information anywhere in the building.

“It’s not just a hub for learning and working: it’s a centre for student services for the whole university. You could pretty much live here.”


Signal yellow

The Hub’s striking façade draws inspiration from the artist-designed decorative glass at Coventry Cathedral. ‘Signal Yellow’ was selected as a signature colour for the building after experiments with a wide variety of primary colours for it's vibrancy, it is traditionally used by railway engineers for ultimate visibility.The colour is used on the external columns, stairs and to identify key zones within The Hub.

Where town meets gown

The Hub lies at both the heart of the University campus and the city centre, and at the junction of the historic quarter of the city and the post-war development of the University. We designed the building to help reinstate and strengthen circulation patterns across the campus and the city, and to allow for a long view of Coventry Cathedral.

We continue to work with Coventry University, developing schemes to extend the new public realm.

  • Project Details
  • Materials
  • Sustainability
  • Collaboration

Project Summary

Project Team

Services Engineer /BREEAM Assessor/ sustainability consultant: Max Fordham LLP
Structural Engineer / Civil Engineer: Adams Kara Taylor (sub-consultants to Hawkins\Brown)
Quantity Surveyor: Gardiner and Theobald
Landscape Architects: Plinke LLP (sub-consultants to Hawkins\Brown)
Project Manager / CDM Coordinator: Davis Langdon

Design team and Hawkins\Brown were novated to BAM Construction for stages 5-7


  • Education Estates Awards 2014 - Innovation in Teaching and Learning Category - Winner
  • British Construction Industry Awards 2012 - Shortlisted
  • RIBA Awards 2012 - West Midlands Regional Award - Winner
  • Building Design Awards 2011 - Education Architect of the Year - Shortlisted


The Hub’s façade is made from a unitized, flush curtain walling cladding system, glazed with a ceramic frit pattern to give a dynamic surface texture.


The BREEAM excellent Hub is largely naturally ventilated and day-lit. It has a ground source heat pump for sustainable cooling, rooftop photovoltaics to provide a sustainable on-site power supply, low energy light fittings and a PIR controlled lighting system. Water usage is limited through low-use sanitary-ware and a rainwater-harvesting tank. The curtain walling cladding system provides intelligent control of the internal environment via an easy to use building management system.

“I would be happy not only to recommend Hawkins Brown Architects but would be happy to work with them again.”

Prof Gerry Ackerman, Coventry University


We worked in close collaboration with the contractor on the design and build phases of the project, which resulted in effective problem solving on site. The project was completed on time, and undercut the original budget by £5million, even after fit out and landscaping costs, representing excellent value for the client.

“Hawkins\Brown were a great help to the construction team throughout the process, and showed huge commitment to the project. The knowledge and experience they offered was vital.”

Roger Willett, Construction Director – Midlands | BAM Construction Ltd

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