UCLan’s flagship building and University Square claims RIBA Regional Award

22 May 2023

The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Student Centre and University Square has scooped a highly prestigious industry award.

The flagship state-of-the-art building and surrounding civic space won a Regional Award at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) North West Awards 2023.

Every aspect of the 7,304sqm building, which was designed by Hawkins/Brown and built by main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland, was considered and constructed with sustainability, accessibility and student wellbeing in mind, offering a place to study, socialise and access second-to-none support in one central location.

The building was finished off with a rooftop garden, making a relaxing space for students and staff to unwind in, complete with wildflower planting and bat and bird nest boxes.

Also included in the large project was the creation of the 5,000 sqm University Square. Featuring Wi-Fi and plenty of seating, it is the focal point in UCLan’s Preston Campus and is the go-to location for hosting large-scale events, such as graduation ceremonies and festivals.

Motion sensitive ‘light threads’ have been embedded into the Square which at night create a stunning illuminated pathway, guiding visitors into the Student Centre and central campus beyond. Designed by lighting consultants Jason Bruges Studio, the eye-catching feature symbolises cotton strands and is a proud reference to the city’s cotton heritage.

The development also saw the invention of St Peter’s Gardens, and a clear and inviting route through the spine of the Preston Campus, joining the Student Centre and the Engineering and Innovation Centre with anchor buildings such as the Library and Students’ Union.

RIBA said: “Hawkins\Brown has created an innovative and welcoming campus entrance which firmly establishes the university within Preston city centre.

“The openness of the building’s design creates an easy-to-navigate layout which university staff praised as being key to making the various different facilities and resources provided more accessible to students, benefiting their wellbeing. The variety of scales internally allows for a range of functions, from large atrium to smaller, more private areas.

“The jury found the project had an impressive approach to sustainability. The Student Centre is a BREEAM Excellent and EPC A-rated building that uses low-carbon cross-laminated timber and other modern methods of construction to create and deliver architecture that is environmentally, financially, and socially sustainable.”

Bob Turner, UCLan’s Student Centre and University Square Project Manager, said: “I’m absolutely delighted our new flagship building and public square have received recognition at such a well-respected industry awards event. Our collaboration with many expert companies, including Hawkins/Brown and Bowmer & Kirkland, ensured we delivered a beautiful and fit-for-purpose space that our students and staff enjoy studying, working and relaxing in.”

The Student Centre and University Square were the final parts of UCLan’s £200m Masterplan project, launched in 2015, which set out a vision to create a unified, sustainable and welcoming campus which will enhance the experience for all those visiting the University and benefitting the local area.

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