The metaphorical heart of student life
HLM Architects for Sheffield Hallam University
Contract value: £27 million
GIA: 7,451 m2
As its name suggests, this project sits in the centre of a university campus, which itself sits in a conservation area. It is however more than a geographical heart. In a building type now developing rapidly across the university sector, it also aims and succeeds in becoming the metaphorical heart of student life, combining academic and informal spaces.
Consequently the project has had to skilfully resolve the competing forces of aggregating many diverse functions that are a key part of modern student life, including a ‘mock court’ for budding lawyers. It does this with a sensitivity to the generally domestic scale of the conservation area. The exterior of the three-storey project successfully breaks down the overall mass into well-detailed villa-scaled elements, which sit around an internal courtyard or atrium that is intensely animated by student life.
While the project’s intent was clearly to deliver an excellent student experience, particular credit should be given to the commitment to engage with the students as part of the project team. This approach is further validated by the very positive reception the project has received.