The £13.2m latest addition to Teesside University’s ambitious campus masterplan has received a prestigious industry award.
The Student Life Building was the recipient of the education category award at the 2020 RICS Social Impact Awards (North East).
The awards recognise the positive and transformative contribution that the built environment makes to society.
The Student Life Building, which was opened in January by the former Universities minister, the Right Honourable Chris Skidmore MP, has delivered a new way of life for students at Teesside University’s Middlesbrough campus, bringing all student-facing services into one central hub, along with social space and an innovative digital offer to enhance the student and learning experience.
Student Life is much more than a building; the project involved a complete reconfiguration of all student-facing services across the university, co-locating staff from several departments within a central hub, and under one central brand, developed in collaboration with students. The Student Life Building is home to social and collaborative learning, health and wellbeing services, careers advice and digital and technical support, alongside a popular catering outlet and CreatorLab, which brings together staff and students to devise novel curriculum developments.
Central to the building’s design was a desire to make access to support as simple as possible and remove any perceived stigma. The blending of ‘learning’, ‘support’ and ‘social’ spaces has successfully achieved this, as is evidenced by increased numbers of students making use of the services on offer.
Social impact is central to the university’s mission and values and was a key decision in the appointment of contractor Wilmott Dixon to complete this project. Throughout construction, the site supported 60 weeks of apprenticeships and 10 weeks of work experience.
The Student Life Building was also designed and constructed with the environmental sustainability in mind, evidenced by its BREEAM Excellent and Energy Performance Certificate A ratings.
Judges for the RICS awards said: “The building provides a technologically enabled environment, supporting a variety of learning styles, activities and attendance patterns. It offers a range of flexible spaces, enabling social and collaborative learning, as well as an information zone, consulting rooms and a cafe.”
Vice-chancellor and chief executive of Teesside University, Professor Paul Croney, said: “We are delighted to have won this award. Despite only being open a few months, the Student Life Building has already made a huge impact to our campus community.
“The collaborative working culture it has galvanised has already proved invaluable, enabling a seamless transition to off-campus and remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic, with no disruption to the support given to our students.”
Malcolm Page, chief operating officer at Teesside University, added: “Key to the success of this project was the excellent working relationship between all of the partners involved.
“From the outset, our architects and contractors demonstrated a real understanding of the brief, and brought an innovative approach to deliver a superb facility, which will make a real difference to the lives of our students.”
Ian Whittle, senior associate at FaulknerBrowns Architects, said: “When FaulknerBrowns started working with the university to develop its masterplan in 2016, it quickly became clear that the Student Life Building, and the organisational change it would support, was the single most critical development for the university over the next five years.
“Seeing the project come to fruition, and rapidly become a vibrant new focus for campus life, has been truly inspiring. It’s genuinely transformed the University’s delivery of the significant social benefit that the RICS Awards celebrate.”
Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the North, said: “We are proud to have once again worked alongside Teesside University to continue to shape a campus that is transforming the student welfare and learning experience.
“This Social Impact award recognises the whole project team’s shared commitment to making a difference to the lives of students today and creating a positive lasting legacy for our local community for years to come.
“That the Student Life building stands adjacent to Teesside University Business School and its unique ‘living green wall’, both delivered by our teams, is a source of enormous pride to our business.”
Trevor Trainor, associate director at Summers Inman, surveyors for the Student Life Building, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to continue our working relationship with a key client on the latest stage of its masterplan development.
“Taking its place on a prominent site in the heart of the campus, we believe an exceptional and visually striking building has been provided that will serve the university well for many years to come.”
The Student Life Building is the latest project to be completed as part of Teesside University’s campus masterplan, which will see £300m invested up to 2026 to create a campus environment to rival any in the sector.