University student union buildings and study areas have certainly changed from the ones we remember! Long gone are the days of grotty bars with beer-soaked carpets and scruffy meeting areas full of sofas losing their stuffing; students these days want to socialise and study in a far better environment.
Maybe it’s got something to do with rises in tuition fees but todays students seem to to have much higher expectations, judging by the stunning interior of Coventry University’s Student Hub. Students now demand far more from the buildings they socialise and study; they’re encouraged to have a more responsible attitude to drinking so student bars are now being designed as attractive places to spend time relaxing, meeting friends and studying.
Coventry University Student Hub has been created with all this in mind. Designed by architecture practice HawkinsBrown, a practice that has experience of designing university buildings all over the UK. The project brief for the hub started began as a traditional student union, comprising bars and study areas. However, the project evolved and the end result is a user-friendly socialising area that is being used and enjoyed by the whole university.
Many students now choose to live at home in an effort to save money
Something that has also had strong influences on the finished design is that many students now choose to live at home in an effort to save money, rather than living on halls of residence on campus. This means that many students now need a place to meet and relax in between lectures when once they would have gone back to their halls for a break.
The Hub’s huge L-shaped building is located right in the centre of Coventry University Campus. The building has a stunning glass facade in contrast to the bombed out shell of Coventry Cathedral which was destroyed during World War II air raids.
The interior of the building includes a wide variety of study and relaxation areas, along with a doctors’ surgery, library, employment agency and, of course, a bar. A huge amount of space – 2,800 sq m to be precise – has been devoted to informal learning. Many students now carry their own laptops and need somewhere to sit and work. The building has a very professional, business-like feel which the designers hope reflects the attitude of many modern students. Polished floors, glass elevations, exposed concrete surfaces and coloured acoustic baffles all contribute to an incredibly stylish finish, more reminiscent of some of the office fit out refurbishment projects we’ve worked on, rather than a University building.
Furniture has been added in the shape of huge, brightly-coloured modular systems to create the feel of different ‘zones’ within the building. These modules range from cosy house-shaped seating ares with their own gable roofs through to round ‘nests’ with beanbag seating. Each module has it’s own flat screen monitor and power supply for laptops.
Conventry University’s Student Hub certainly shows what it’s possible to create in a modern eduction environment. The design includes some truly inspirational ideas that we’re very keen to try out for ourselves.
Posted March 8, 2012