Vision for University’s Circa £60 Million Campus Gateway Revealed

The preferred architect has been chosen in a competition to create a new circa £60 million civic square and student support centre for the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Design concepts presented by Hawkins\Brown, which has offices in Manchester and London, were selected by judges from seven shortlisted entries in the competition run by UCLan in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Hawkins\Brown’s design concept also received the most positive comments from members of the public in a series of exhibitions which ran alongside the competition.

The design concept features a biodiverse roof, LED lighting underfoot, a pavilion café bar and a large glass façade to create feelings of light, space and airiness.

It has been created using the idea of ‘threads’ to connect the University and the city, drawing on Preston’s textile heritage and its future in aerospace electronics.

Hawkins\Brown will now produce a final proposal which will take into account feedback from the judges, UCLan staff and students as well as members of the public. The design team includes landscape architects Plincke and lighting and art designers Jason Bruges.

In total, 41 entries were received from across Europe for the creation of the civic square and student support centre, two key projects within UCLan’s £200 million Masterplan.

David Taylor, Chair of the University Board, commented:

We already have two world-class architecture practices working with us on the Masterplan in SimpsonHaugh and Partners and AHR, and now we have a third with the appointment of the team from Hawkins\Brown. The standard of submissions was very high but it was Hawkins\Brown’s visually impactful, well thought-out concept design which won the day.

Hawkins\Brown demonstrated a true understanding of what students want, and of the city of Preston with the concept design referencing our industrial heritage. It is a firm which has extensive experience of partnering with universities and, importantly, the final design will deliver on our ambition of drawing the University and city together like never before.

Sana Iqbal, President of the UCLan Students’ Union, said:

The concept design looks great! We are very excited to work with the University and Hawkins\Brown to ensure that the new Student Support building and square meets the needs of students.

Michael Ahern, Chief Operating Officer at UCLan, added:

These are exciting times for the University and the city and there is huge potential in the Hawkins\Brown scheme, which is just the start of the development process. We will continue to work very hard with our partners at Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council and the local community so that the final design reflects a shared vision that improves connectivity with the city centre.

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas said:

This is a landmark project which will enhance Preston’s landscape, and all the shortlisted architects provided a skilled and unique response. We’d like to thank everyone who submitted feedback as the comments helped shape the judging panel’s final decision, and it was Hawkins\Brown’s winning design concept which drew the most positive attention. The public particularly liked the curved glass façade and the idea of the pavilion café bar, supporting the use of the square for all.

Roger Hawkins, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said:

“We are tremendously excited about getting started on this project, testing some of our initial design ideas with students and staff from UCLan and with people from the city of Preston.”

The project is due for completion in 2019. AECOM is Project and Cost Manager and BDP is providing a wide range of multi-disciplinary engineering services for the student support centre and new square.

Watch the short video containing interviews with members of the RIBA competition selection panel:

Additional comments:

John Whiles, Jestico & Whiles and the RIBA Adviser, said: “The variety of the seven finalist responses to the visionary brief were an excellent challenge to assumptions and expectations. It was only after much debate that the panel eventually felt that the low, transparent, student-focussed, pavilion approach proposed by Hawkins\Brown best captured the spirit of an interactive, catalytic, gateway building sought by the University of Central Lancashire.”

Leader of Preston City Council Councillor Peter Rankin said: “I am very excited by the whole Masterplan from the University. The new student support centre and civic square will definitely enhance the city centre. Everything is coming together to make Preston an even better place to live, study, work and visit.”

County Councillor John Fillis, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “This is a very exciting project and will create an important new public space for students as well as the people of Preston and the surrounding area to enjoy. I’m proud that we will play our part in making sure that the highway design works for everyone who uses it. These developments are two more great additions to the city, as investment from the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal helps to regenerate the areas around the bus station and Markets Quarter, and a host of other improvements take place, encouraging more people into the city centre, creating new jobs, benefitting local businesses and bring about economic growth.”

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, of which UCLan is a member, said: “The new square and student support centre, along with the other projects associated with UCLan’s Masterplan, will have a real positive economic and social impact on the city. This is a main gateway into Preston and its redevelopment will play a key role in the city’s continuing success.”

Local businesswoman Margaret Mason, who has run a thriving florists from Friargate for 55 years, said: “These plans look very exciting. I particularly love the overall feel of space, light and openness. There are plenty of trees incorporated into the design concept which I think is important and I can see the square itself being used for a whole range of activities that will attract people into this part of the city with knock-on benefits for local businesses. We now need to work together, the city, the university and the local community, to turn these plans into reality.”


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