Sep 17, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Bishop Grosseteste University project is the ultimate specimen of old meets new

Published in Upfront
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The Constance Stewart Hall Building, located at the heart of Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) in Lincoln, is a remarkable project and has transformed a historical campus into a place that has the ‘wow factor’ to continue attracting students for years to come.


The team at specialist architecture firm LK2 were not given a traditional brief for the project but were challenged by BGU to enhance the area of the site which sits on a prominent roundabout on one of the main routes into the city. Through clever design, LK2’s team enabled the university to increase its teaching capacity on campus, while also retaining the green and ‘open’ feel of the university’s historical site.

The £3m redevelopment forms part of an 18-year ongoing relationship between LK2 and BGU, with previous works delivered by the architect including the £4.3m student residence on the university’s campus on Longdales Road which was completed in 2013, the new £1m refectory and the £1.3m Hardy Building.

The project – procured through the empa framework, which is managed by Scape Group – was also delivered by local construction company Robert Woodhead, Sutherland Consulting and Price & Myers. A main focus of the redevelopment was to create flexible teaching spaces fit for a variety of uses, while also sensitively enhancing a campus that is steeped in over 150 years of local history.

In order to do this, the first phase of work was carried out to convert the catering facilities to state-of-the-art teaching spaces. The £750,000 scheme completely transformed the 1940s Art Deco building, with eight teaching rooms and a meeting space being created.

Phase two of the scheme focused on a state-of-the-art 7770ft² extension added over Constance Stewart Hall, allowing space for new teaching rooms to be created. LK2’s team incorporated movable partition walls into the extension’s design, which were installed to provide greater flexibility and enable the university to utilise the space as individual teaching rooms or large, multi-functional spaces.

The project’s second phase – which has become an iconic landmark in uphill Lincoln – has already received much praise since it was opened by HRH the Duke of Gloucester this summer, with the university receiving praise from the local community for its progressive and modern outlook to education.

Andrew Kitchen, Director at LK2, said: “We are delighted to have worked on this iconic scheme which has transformed the cityscape here in Lincoln. We have worked closely with Bishop Grosseteste University to create a modern teaching space which complements the design of the original building, while also looking to the future of education.

“Thanks to our long-standing relationship with BGU, we had a great understanding of the campus, what needed to be enhanced and also what needed to be retained. BGU’s campus is really unique, and we wanted to pay homage to that with our design, which marries together both the new and the old.

“Overall, this project highlights the power of good design, and we are delighted that the new building acts as a ‘shop window’ for the university. It now has an even greater presence in the community to passersby, making the campus an aspirational place for students to be proud of.”

The new extension features a curved glass wall, which mirrors the outlines of the original building; paying homage to its history. One of the most striking elements of the building’s design is how it blends together both new and old elements visually; the contemporary extension now appears to be sailing over the original building, perfectly mirroring and enhancing the history of the campus.

Andrew added: “We are incredibly proud of the building, its striking design has helped BGU to become a landmark in the region and shows significant investment, having an impact not only on the university and its students but also the local community and visitors to Lincoln.”

LK2’s team also created the building to be future-proof and sustainable, with the flexibility of its large teaching spaces allowing Constance Stewart Hall’s extension to be used beyond day-to-day studying and teaching, with the potential to be rented out as event space when not in use by students and staff.

The new extension has been designed using thermal modelling to ensure thermal efficiency and avoid overheating. Air source heat pumps have been incorporated to both heat and cool the building and solar shading utilised on the south and west elevations.

Steve Deville, Director of Resources at the university, said: “It certainly has the wow factor – working on several levels both as an asset for the university and the city. We have had some very, very positive comments. It is a fantastic shop window for us as it shows the university is investing in the future and reflects our core values.

“First and foremost is the learning experience for students – I feel quite privileged to be part of what we are trying to build for the next generation and how we invest to improve the student experience.”

Throughout the scheme, the supply chain pledged to use local materials and labour wherever possible – for example, the frame supporting the extension was made from locally-sourced steel. The development has also had a profound effect on the local community, as contractors worked to engage with local people throughout the entirety of the scheme and keep them on board from start to finish.

The contractor, Woodhead Construction, had local apprentices working on site – including a BGU student – as part of its ongoing commitment to raising aspirations in young people.

BGU and LK2 are pleased to announce that the recent renovation project has been shortlisted for this year’s RICS East Midlands awards for the accolade of ‘Design Through Innovation’ at the upcoming award ceremony.

Vice Chancellor of BGU, Reverend Canon Professor Peter Neil, said: “We are incredibly proud of both our 150-year history of teaching excellence and our progressive attitude which has seen us become the top university in the East Midlands for widening participation.

“When it came to creating a new flexible teaching space, we needed a building that would support our ambitions as well as a team who could understand this. The design by LK2 for Constance Stewart Hall perfectly captured this balance and our finished building provides students with cutting-edge facilities to help them progress. We are pleased to see it rightly celebrated by the RICS.”

The RICS Awards showcase the most inspirational initiatives and developments in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. Across eight individual categories, the awards are regarded as the premier property and construction awards in the country, celebrating the most innovative projects in the region and their impact on local communities.

Andrew Kitchen said: “We are delighted to have been recognised for our design of this iconic scheme which has transformed the cityscape. This project showcases the impact of good design in so many different ways. The new building gives BGU’s campus greater prominence and promotes the university to the wider community.”

LK2’s innovative approach to this redevelopment has resulted in one of the project’s most unique characteristics – the architects were able to blend both new and old elements to create the illusion that the contemporary extension is sailing over the original building.


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