A unique approach to student support has resulted in a landmark Teesside University building receiving a prestigious national award.
The £13.2m Student Life Building, which sits at the heart of the university’s Middlesbrough campus, has received the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Social Impact Education Award 2020.
The RICS Social Impact Awards recognises schemes that make a human, social and environmental impact, as well as the collaboration and innovation involved in their design and delivery.
Student Life is much more than a building; the project involved a complete reconfiguration of the student-facing offer across the university, co-locating staff from several departments within a central hub, and under one unifying brand, developed in collaboration with students. It is this pioneering approach that ensured the project stood out and secured the award.
The national RICS award follows the Student Life Building’s success in the regional finals held in May this year.
As well as being home to social and collaborative learning, the Student Life Building offers 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, through blending ‘learning’, ‘support’ and ‘social’ spaces.
The success of this approach is apparent, with increased numbers of students accessing the full range of support.
The Student Life service offer has remained accessible throughout the global pandemic, with virtual appointments and an online enquiry management system helping students to navigate unprecedented times.
Social impact is core to the University’s mission and values and underpinned the decision to appoint contractor Willmott Dixon to complete this project.
Throughout construction, the site supported 60 weeks of apprenticeships and 10 weeks of work experience, along with various charitable activities.
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.
Vice-chancellor and chief executive professor Paul Croney said: “We are delighted that the Student Life Building has received yet more recognition for the huge impact it has made to the student experience here at Teesside University.
“Since opening it has helped engender a truly collaborative culture, which has proven invaluable in providing continuity of support to our students throughout these unprecedented times.”
Malcolm Page, chief operating officer at Teesside University, added: “We are extremely pleased to have received this accolade for the Student Life Building.
“It is a testament to the close working relationship between the University, its contractors and advisors, as well as the hard work of our staff in bringing the ambitious vision for the project to reality.”
Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the North, said: “We are proud to have once again worked alongside Teesside University on a truly exciting project, at the heart of what is a state-of-the-art campus, designed to transform the student welfare and learning experience.
“This award recognises the whole project team’s shared commitment to making a difference to the lives of students today and for generations to come.
“We believe in delivering brilliant buildings, transforming lives, strengthening communities and enhancing the environment so our world is fit for future generations. The Student Life Building supports every one of those goals.”
Andrew Kane, partner at FaulknerBrowns Architects, said: “Creating social value is at the core of our design approach and we’re extremely proud that the Student Life Building has received national recognition for its positive impact on the student experience.
“The vision for the building emerged from staff and student consultation during our development of the University’s ten-year masterplan. To have played a part in its delivery, and to see it go on to perform a central role in fostering all aspects of student life, is fantastic.”
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.