Grade II listed building reimagined to create a modern social hub for today’s student
We refurbished the existing Traders cafe within a Grade II listed building on the Glenside Campus for the University of the West of England (UWE), creating a new social learning hub.
Helping to bring students together in a vibrant, social setting, the hub integrates comfortable seating for both socialising and learning, a food outlet serving hot meals and a new cafe shop, the Coffee Pod.
The previous facilities within the Traders environment at Glenside were outdated, underused and not fit for purpose, preventing any form of meaningful collaboration and connectivity between people using the space.
Enhancing the student experience, the new social learning hub provides a contemporary environment that is fit for purpose and supports a range of activities throughout the whole day, not just at peak times.
Listening to the students’ needs, to enhance their university experience
Following a detailed stakeholder engagement process, we identified a considerate design approach which would improve the student experience by expanding the facilities and create a transformative space which is supportive of the growing needs of the modern student.
Feedback from the stakeholder group highlighted that the existing facilities at Glenside were inadequate, unfit for purpose and did not support collaborative learning and socialising. Our client brief outlined that an improvement to the overall acoustics and additional power outlets was essential to encourage more students to use the space.
A professional look and feel to the environment was required to attract visitors and potential students attending UWE open days or selection events. It was also identified that the current design of the food and drinks counters was poor and did not reflect the university’s ambitions to support a range of student needs based around their busy schedules.
A comfortable, collaborative and contemporary environment
We strategically organised the layout into three separate areas: the cafe, main dining area and the lounge, giving more clarity and order to the space. This was a vast improvement to the previous design which at busier times created a 'bottleneck' and generally an unpleasant experience for students.
The catering facilities now operate on longer hours, which is not only a cost effective solution, but provides a more prompt service for those requiring a ‘grab and go’ culture.
The previous outdated furniture was uninspiring and didn't lend itself to being flexible or support a collaborative learning environment. The new furniture provides comfort and flexibility of use through bench and booth seating, and cafe and PC tables, catering for different uses and flexible numbers of people.
The colour scheme improved the general level of lighting by treating high level walls and vaulted ceiling with an off-white colour, complementing the stone window surrounds. The walls below the cornice profile are darker, creating a more intimate atmosphere to the surrounding booths.
Creating a more intimate atmosphere, we used a bespoke lighting scheme including a mix of low level, task lighting as well as high level lighting to illuminate the ceiling. In keeping much of the character of the existing building, we also retained and enhanced the cornice perimeter wall washing lighting.
The selected finishes improve the acoustics of the space, including acoustic wall mounted panels and existing floor overlay with new carpet tiles to perimeter booth seating.
Bristol, BS16 1DD
The University of the West of England
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