With a record number of students set to go to a UK university this year, we take a look at how universities are investing in new facilities to attract the brightest and the best.
University funding has changed. Students now have to take out substantial loans to cover tuition fees and accommodation. So, it’s no surprise that they now expect more for their money including better facilities and more luxurious accommodation.
To attract the brightest and the best, Universities have invested huge amounts to bring their facilities up to the standard expected, create a WOW factor at Open Days and meet sustainability aspirations.
Fenestration plays an important part in creating both visual impact and practical design solutions. Here’s how Senior’s aluminium glazing systems can and have been used to meet and exceed student expectations at universities throughout the UK:
1. Create a WOW factor
Aluminium curtain walling is the perfect way to create visual impact for any building.
The new sports centre at the University of Stirling in Scotland is the perfect example – with an added twist!
Faulkner Browns Architects created an eye-catching exterior using Senior’s thermally enhanced SF52 curtain walling to three elevations. The twist comes in the shape of a cylindrical drum housing the main fitness suite. Vertical timber frames are spaced around the cylinder to give the illusion of motion, animating the views through the extensive curtain walling from both inside and outside the gym.
When the University of Leicester decided to move their School of Business to a new site, they wanted to create a dedicated campus worthy of their vision of becoming a top twenty global academy for leaders, innovators and change makers. To create visual impact Senior’s slim profile SF52 thermal enhanced curtain walling was installed on the three staggered gable ends and the whole building was wrapped in copper cladding. This was a complex installation which required close co-operation between all sub-contractors and 3D BIM modelling to ensure co-ordination of all the elements involved.
Home to the Students’ Union, the building’s WOW factor comes in the shape of the new eastern façade of the four-storey extension which fronts directly onto the University’s focal point of Fielding Johnson Square.
Created using Senior’s SF52 silicon glazed and fully capped curtain walling, with PURe® aluminium opening vents, the façade gives a light and spacious feeling to all four floors. Curved glazing and eye-catching perforated panels add to the dramatic appearance of the façade.
2. Enhance Safety and Security
For students, (and especially for their parents), the safety and security of both student accommodation and the university as a whole is a major concern and an important factor when choosing where to study.
With most student accommodation now several stories high or in tower blocks, the choice of windows has never been more important from a safety point of view. For those living on the ground floor security is a more important issue.
At new student accommodation for the Arts University in Bournemouth, a total of 500 thermally enhanced SPW600 top hung casement and tilt turn windows were installed throughout the buildings. For additional safety and security Senior’s barrier load tested Louvre Guard System was fitted to all bedroom and kitchen windows. And to give students and their parents extra peace of mind smoke vents were fitted to the SPW600 corridor windows which span several floors. (SPW600 windows are approved for use as smoke vents when fitted with SECO Ni 24 40 Actuators from SE Controls.)
In addition, robust SPW501 thermally broken commercial doors were installed to all external entrances. Like the SPW600 windows, these have Police Preferred Specification’ status and are certified as Secured By Design having been tested to make sure that they achieve the rigorous standards required by the police.
At the security office an extra-large and strong solution was needed which was answered by the installation of Senior’s PURe® Commercial Doors
Shortlisted in the Accommodation Awards 2019 for Private Halls of Residence of the Year, The Toybox in Birmingham Student Accommodation, shows just what can be achieved with great design and imaginative use of materials. It features an attractive mix of green coloured brickwork, zinc cladding and the extensive use of Senior’s SF52 curtain walling.
With a focus on safe and secure ventilation, tilt and turn style openings were specified for the SPW600 aluminium windows. On a practical note, the tilt turn option also allows the windows to be easily cleaned from the inside.
3. Provide adequate ventilation
The COVID pandemic has highlighted just how important ventilation is in public spaces. None more so than in gyms and sports centres where heavy breathing is the norm.
Mindful of this, David Morley Architects’ design for the new Sports and Wellness Hub at the University of Warwick in the Midlands, included opening PURe® Aluminium Vents in the dramatic façade created using Senior’s SF52 Aluminium Curtain Walling.
At the Arts University of Bournemouth, extra ventilation was provided by installing PURe® SLIDE Lift & Slide doors in the large communal area near the main entrance. The doors can easily glide open in the summer to provide extra ventilation and create more space.
4. Optimise Acoustics for a Good Night’s Sleep
Whilst university students are renowned for partying and staying out late, when they do finally go to bed, they need a good night’s sleep to be able to get the most from their lectures the next day. That can be difficult if they live in a noisy area next to a busy road.
Acoustic performance was a key consideration for Kelsey Design Associates when specifying windows for new high-specification student accommodation on a main road close to Sheffield city centre. Senior’s PURe® aluminium windows were chosen for their excellent acoustic and thermal performance made possible by their innovative patented PUR thermal break of expanded polyurethane.
For more tips on specifying for acoustic performance see our Acoustics blog post
5. Meet or Exceed Sustainability Goals
Following the UN’s report on the science of climate change published in August 2021, sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for students choosing a university. Every year People and Planet publish a University League Table which ranks universities by environmental and ethical performance.
Currently 12th in this league table for Russel Group Universities, the University of Warwick had ambitious energy efficiency targets for its new Sports and Wellness Hub.
Senior’s thermally enhanced SF52 Curtain Walling was part of the solution, which has enabled the building to become the most energy efficient leisure centre in the UK, performing 27.5% better than the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’ Energy Benchmark. That’s good for both sustainability league tables and for the university’s finances.
Similarly, a sustainable design was essential for the new Lancashire Energy HQ at Blackpool & Flyde College which focuses on training for the renewable energy sector. An energy-efficient glazing package including SF52 Curtain walling and SPW600e windows, was specified, enabling an ‘Excellent’ Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating to be achieved.
6. Generate a Comfortable Environment
To help foreign students adapt to life in the UK, the University of Stirling commissioned a new three-story building as a hub for international students preparing for degree courses. Designed with Feng Shui principals in mind, the INTO Centre feature large areas of glazing, together with bright colours internally, resulting in a light and joyful environment where both students and staff can feel safe and comfortable.
This comfortable work and social space was created using Senior’s slimline and thermally efficient SF52 curtain walling and PURe® aluminium windows with an innovative thermal break, to maximise daylighting and minimise heat loss.
With its slim profile, excellent thermal performance and impressive design flexibility, Senior’s SF52 aluminium curtain walling was used to maximise the use of light and space, helping to create a welcoming and comfortable learning environment at the new Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre building, at Wakefield College.
Need help selecting the right glazing package?
At Senior we have a team of highly experienced Architectural Advisors who will be able to help you select the most appropriate fenestration products to incorporate into the design of your next University project to meet the required specification. We’re always happy to help, so please get in touch today on 01709 772600.