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UCLan Student Centre and University Squares \

Designing flexible social learning spaces

Student Centres are often occupied in unpredictable and changing ways. Hawkins\Brown have designed the UCLan building to be a flexible loose-fit container, offering a range of different spaces that can change over time, responding to new ways of learning.

Building Design Concept

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.

Project Summary

Project Team

Multidisciplinary EngineerBDP
Landscape ArchitectPlincke
Lighting Art DesignJason Bruges Studio
Project Manager & Cost ConsultancyAECOM

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