ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Third Annual Conference held at the University of Sheffield on 5th July 2017

Breaking the Mould: Universities Supporting Industry, Enterprise and Innovation

 

UK Universities are again at a time of great change.  The Higher Education and Research Bill currently going through Parliament aims to improve the student experience, ensure that students receive value for money, allow more competition to universities and enhance the UK’s economy through increased productivity, research and innovation.  Even before BREXIT, initiatives such as the Government’s 2014 Local Enterprise Partnerships and Enterprise Zones were encouraging universities, manufacturing, innovation and enterprise to work together.  Post BREXIT, this will be even more important.

Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser

Over 170 Delegates at HEDQF’s 2017 Annual Conference explored the design of universities in this new role, with the conference based in Sheffield where the two universities have been instrumental in supporting the economic transformation of the city from its old industrial base into new fields through research, training and partnerships with design, engineering and manufacturing companies.

 

Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities from the University of Sheffield opened the conference in the “Diamond”, the University of Sheffield’s new £81 million undergraduate engineering building, with a description of the projects that support the university’s strategy to be the best engineering university in the UK, and therefore one of the best in the world, translating world class research into applications and jobs and building on Sheffield’s heritage as an engineering city. 

 

Investment in buildings is complimented by investment in the public realm, something that has also happened at Sheffield Hallam University where the conference was closed in the new Faculty of Development and Society Building by Lloyd Snellgrove, Director of Research and Innovation, who described Sheffield Hallam University’s enterprise strategy, which includes a complimentary focus on design and arts.

Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser

Sheffield University’s world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has been developed in partnership with 90 companies from Boeing, Rolls Royce, BAE systems and Aerospace to small local companies.  Colin Sirett, CEO described its history from the closure of the old Orgreave Coking Plant to the transformation to the AMRC today while Jamie McGourlay from Rolls Royce explained the importance which Rolls Royce and other companies placed on strategic partnerships with the university, which enables manufacturing to remain in the UK, while future building designs, including Factory 2050, were described by Darren Southgate from Bond Bryan Architects

 

Reflecting that universities have to respond in different ways to  geographical constraints, the communities they serve and the local industrial and skills base, two entirely different situations were presented: the urban heart of London by Adrian Tindall from London South Bank University and campuses across different locations by Bernard Curren at the University of Plymouth.

 

Other universities are achieving change through the opportunities of new campuses.  Jane Bunce from the University of Northampton presented the vision for their Waterside Campus, in which learning and teaching would be transformed and in which there would be no formal lecture theatres, while Karsan Vaghani presented Cardiff University’s campus in Cathays which includes a new world-class facility to co-locate research teams from different subjects to support translational research, enabling the university to respond to new opportunities that are increasingly found at the boundaries of traditional disciplines. 

Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser

Roddy Langmuir and Peter Inglis from Cullinan Studio presented the design and construction of the National Automotive Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick, but with an added twist - how do you design a building for a client who is passionate about design and use of technology, in this case Jaguar Land Rover, and how do you ensure delivery of design excellence using a design and build construction contract?  Key to success, beyond novating the design team, are that all parties - especially the subcontractors - must be signed up to achieve quality and innovation in design, and that Chinese walls should have doors that can be briefly opened when needed. 

 

Stafford Critchlow and Yasmin Al-Ani Spence of WilkinsonEyre have a similar design challenge in working at the Dyson Campus in Malmesbury, where a long term relationship has been beneficial as buildings have altered and changed, including the bold creation of a private engineering university to train and retain the workforce of tomorrow.  It is not just the UK that is developing AMRC’s – the presentation included their project for the University of Melbourne in Australia. 

Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser

A highlight of the conference was a presentation and discussion by Daniel Jary, Head of Learning and Teaching and the studio leader for Studio: Collaborative Production at the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield and Zak Nicoll, a Y6 MArch student, on the wide variety of imaginative and sustainable designs from students for future AMRC building, many of which create transparent connections with local communities.

 

Philip Ogden, Chairman of HEFQF, in introducing the conference, reflected on the huge investment made in UK universities, around £23.5 billion between 2004 and 2014, achieving a transformation to university buildings and campuses, a theme also covered in the recent film commissioned by AUDE to celebrate 25 years of its existence since polytechnics (including that which became Sheffield Hallam University) merged into the university sector: AUDE at 25.

 

The conclusion?  As Britain enters the post-Brexit era, the role of universities in supporting their local communities becomes even more important as are collaborations and partnerships between universities and design, engineering and manufacturing companies.  Many of the existing ones have been supported by EU funding – how will this be replaced?  If the UK is to retain its world-class reputation, universities and designers must continue to create innovative and high quality spaces and facilities and to think about new ways of doing things, whether it be new ways of teaching and learning or carrying out translational research to break down disciplinary barriers, something which HEDQF will support through its future research programme.

 

Many thanks to the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University for hosting the conference and to our sponsors, Overbury, Gardiner & Theobald and Bond Bryan Architects.

HEDQF’s 2nd Annual Conference: Future Campus – The University of the Future
12 July 2016
UAL

This successful conference, attended by over 200 delegates, asked the question “What will the university of the future look like?” when technology, society, the aspirations of students and the needs of researchers are changing and becoming ever more demanding in the competitive world while funding and cost of tuition continues to be a challenge. Students and staff expect well-designed, technology-rich, high quality facilities that reflect the identity of the university, while universities have a renewed focus on collaboration with a wide variety of organisations - locally, national and internationally. 

 

The Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF)’s Annual Conference for 2016 examined how universities and designers were  responding to these challenges, within the venue of the Granary Building, Central St Martins, University of the Arts London (UAL) in the major regeneration area of King’s Cross London. 

 

The conference considered examples of forward-thinking in London, elsewhere in the UK and internationally, and coincided with the launch of the new HEDQF-RIBA book Future Campus - Design Quality in University Buildings.

Book Launch

FUTURE CAMPUS BOOK LAUNCH

 

The launch of the RIBA / HEDQF publication, "Future Campus" took place at UAL after the 2016 Conference in 12 July.

 

The modern university takes many forms, with considerable contrasts in history, size and location, and in the balance between teaching, learning and research. Universities play a major role within their local communities in education, in their contribution to the economy and in generating a sense of pride and engagement.

 

Future Campus highlights how the physical space of the university and the quality of design of that space really matters and will help architects, design teams and university clients in their pursuit of practical and innovative solutions to creating places that enable effective and enjoyable teaching, learning and research. The book draws on a wide range of case studies from different higher education systems and includes the views of university academics, estate directors, architects and engineers involved in the creation of settings for university life.

 

If you would like to order the publication, further details can be found at the RIBA Bookshop.

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