HLM’s finely crafted design solution for the new student residences at St. Andrews University (Powell & Whitehorn Hall) creates a striking addition to the unique landscape setting on Scotland’s east coast, the graceful proportions and fine detailing sitting comfortably alongside mature tree specimens. In addition to seeking to achieve an elegant visual outcome and a positive contribution to the sense of community within the campus, both buildings also aim to deliver a new socially driven and environmentally sustainable model for student accommodation.
From the outset of the design process, our team sought to deliver a needs-informed and context-sensitive scheme, beyond the scope of the original brief to help our client successfully deliver what was the largest expansion of student residences at the University in over a decade.
The new buildings are designed to have a wide array of common spaces to foster communication between different student demographics and intellectual disciplines; as well as between students and their facilities and tutors.
The central concepts of community, connection and adaptability creates choices of setting to the learning environment, fostering both trust and responsibility in the student/tutor relationship – but also a learning environment in which the student is comfortable and receptive to learning.
Double height spaces in each hall create a sense of arrival, with vibrant and active spaces on ground floor, and quieter focussed study areas above. Linking directly to the main vertical circulation, students are drawn through these spaces encouraging interaction and engagement helping to foster a sense of community within each hall.
Powell Hall takes its cue from the courtyard blocks of the adjacent hall, creating a new central quad at its heart. Light buff masonry and light polished concrete enhance visual amenity, whilst prominent social, study and common spaces alongside zinc detailing help animate the façade. Angled window pods offer views northwards; a nod to James Stirling’s A listed Melville Hall to the west.
Whitehorn Hall, set out to reinforce the very specific character and feel of the existing B listed hall. In response, the design creates a series of collegiate style quads, sympathetic to the scale and massing of Old Wing picking on the richness of the Conservation area’s Baronial and Gothic roofscape. Each block adopts a contemporary zinc pitched roof reflecting and adding to the varied roofscape. Grey brickwork and polished concrete are sympathetic to the tone of the adjacent buildings whilst projecting concrete bays give prominence to common living spaces, animating facades and creating activity on courtyard elevations.
“We’re absolutely delighted with both residences. When we look at it in comparison with previous projects, the mix of social space and bedrooms is excellent, the design of social space is in keeping with [the wider] environment, [and] you know you are in St Andrews because of the interior graphics [e.g. wallpaper]. It is well used, [and] well looked after, so clearly students appreciate the space.”
Operational Manager, University Residences and Business Support