What we have achieved is amazing."
Jim Andrews | Chief Operating Officer | Bournemouth University
Bournemouth University has a clear vision statement, called BU2018. It can be summed up as:
Creating the most stimulating, challenging, and rewarding university experience in a world-class learning community by sharing our unique fusion of excellent education, research and professional practice and inspiring our students, graduates and staff to enrich the world.
A key part of this vision is the development of the university’s estate in line with the vision to create the right environment in which this vision can be achieved, as such the Estates Development Framework (EDF) was created alongside the vision to outline the way in which the estate will grow to help the university achieve its goals.
With the support of delivery partners such as Willmott Dixon using the Scape National Major Works framework, BU set to work on creating buildings that would enhance the student experience and the education of students on campus,; one such building being the new Student Centre.
As a key part of the University’s vision includes , it is important that the university’s buildings are stimulating and useable for students so that they can excel in everything else they do.
This has been the strategy with the Student Centre - providing a space for students to use as their own so that they can study, learn, socialise and be challenged in a space they feel comfortable in, in order that their experience at BU is enhanced through the Estate.
Bournemouth University is one of the UK’s best learning environments. It has been rated the South West’s fourth best University, after Exeter, Bath and Bristol, and its aim is to become a UK Top 50 University.
Encouragingly, the University has recently moved from 65 to 54 in the Complete University Guide, and from 71 to 63 in the Guardian’s Guide to Universities. Their graduate employability is now an impressive 93.3%.
Their strategy is to grow in a manageable way, and this is all about developing the very best levels of student retention. This steered their strategy for investment around improving the student experience by creating better conditions and environments.
During the design of the Student Centre, Willmott Dixon took the Bournemouth University clients on reference visits to similar buildings at Warwick, Coventry, Sheffield and Leicester universities.
They also engaged with the students to seek their opinions to ensure they designed an environment that would ensure the students felt at home - because many Students’ Unions have quite a corporate environment.
Social collaboration is very important within the University, and by visiting the other universities with a team from the University, representatives from the Students’ Union, the architects and Willmott Dixon, the project team was able to garner a lot of positive feedback that informed the design process.
Students want their Union to be accessible and approachable – and this was right at the heart of the student experience. Willmott Dixon incorporated this feedback and the architects developed designs for a space that was more academically led rather than commercially driven, as may have been the case before the additional research.
The focus remained throughout on creating a space for social learning and the building has real character and personality. It is located in the heart of the University campus and houses 20 full time staff.
This is the first new structure constructed on Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus in 10 years, and it has succeeded in creating a greatly enhanced user experience.
The University is pleased to have had an uplift in The Sunday Times Student Guide by 14 places from 81st in 2013, to 67th in 2015 (although this cannot be attributed to the new Student Centre, it is believed that this has played a key part in the ranking).
With 100 metre bore holes for heating and cooling, a PV array, bird boxes, ventilating atrium, concrete frame, and gender neutral toilets, the new Student Centre is the most sustainable building that Bournemouth University has ever built.
As SUBU President Chloe Schendel-Wilson, explains: “It’s a really nice building and it’s so exciting to use! It’s a really good way for Bournemouth University to show students that there’s somewhere they can just hang out and treat like their own. It has also made SUBU more visible and accessible, so it is much easier to approach us, and easier when you’re walking around to see what’s going on and get involved”.
Local labour within 40 miles
Apprentices employed on site
Waste diverted from landfill
Fair payment (30 days)
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