Past Events

Past Events
© Greg Milner, All Rights Reserved
© Greg Milner, All Rights Reserved

Day Visit to Birmingham City University


When: 3rd April 2019 at 9.30 for 10.00 am start

Where: Birmingham City University, The Atrium, Parkside Building, 5 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD


Birmingham City University celebrates the 150th anniversary of its origins in the Birmingham Government School of Design and is achieving a physical transformation with its £260 million investment programme including the new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire building at the City Centre Campus by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, winner of the RIBA West Midlands Building of the Year and a RIBA National Award in 2018.  The visit will start with a welcome from John Plumridge, Director of Estates and Facilities and introduction to the Royal Conservatoire project by Professor Lamberto Coccioli, Associate Principal (International)  with presentations from the project manager, architect (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios) and acoustic consultant (Hoare Lea), and from the Estates team on the University’s masterplan, current developments and the implications of HS2, along with a tour of the Conservatoire and of the University’s new Curzon Buildings.


The afternoon will continue with presentations and discussion facilitated by Eleanor McGennis from the University of Glasgow and Caroline Paradise from Atkins Global on the recently-published Learning Spaces Toolkit, research into where students learn and study and the ongoing HEDQF research project to develop a briefing tool for the design of future learning and teaching spaces..


Refreshments sponsored by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Hoare Lee.

Image courtesy of © Jack Hobhouse. Kindly note that this image may not be reproduced in any other publication or exhibition, or on any website without prior permission from Hawkins\Brown.
Image courtesy of © Jack Hobhouse. Kindly note that this image may not be reproduced in any other publication or exhibition, or on any website without prior permission from Hawkins\Brown.

Afternoon visit to Here East, Stratford


When: 28th February 2019, 13.45-16.00

Where: Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London, E20 3BS


Here East, an exciting part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympics, is a unique centre for making, innovation and enterprise with a variety of partners from higher education, technology, sports, the arts, broadcasting, fashion and the charity sector, including UCL, Loughborough University London, BT sport, Ford and SCOPE.


The tour included presentations from Here East, UCL and Hawkins\Brown followed by a tour of the site and new academic facilities for UCL.

Improving estate efficiency without compromising good design

(6 February 2019) 


Sharing approaches for an effective and efficient estate, ensuring the everyday projects deliver under financial pressure using good quality design. We considered estate optimisation and the design of teaching, learning and support space, making best use of space to ensure an affordable and efficient estate.


Speakers included:

  • Solent University – Liz Hudswell and Laure Potter: Sink or Swim. The Solent Maritime Relocation Project
  • Bristol University – Matt Fulford: Satisfaction and savings (evaluation of an activity-based work programme)
  • Bournemouth University – Andy Scott – Space Matters? Space Quantity v Space Quality in HE
  • AECOM – Gorana Banic - Masterplanning for Estate Efficiency

HEDQF Event Review: Designing to enhance student mental health


28th November 2018 – BuroHappold Engineering


Around 65 people recently attended a fascinating event hosted by one of HEDQF’s Founder Members BuroHappold Engineering at their London office, with a wide range of inspirational and knowledgeable speakers on the theme of designing for student mental health.  This issue has risen to the top of the agenda of most universities in the UK and US, with huge increases in the number of reported cases of mental health problems in recent years. 


Speeches included:

  • Professor Ian Dunn kicked the event off with his perspective as Deputy VC of Coventry University.
  • Professor Miranda Wolpert, Director of the Evidence Based Practice Unit at UCL then gave us her view as a clinical psychologist. 
  • Ben Channon of Assael Architecture looked at how the many environmental themes play out in student accommodation.
  • Nichola Garde from My Support College outlined the challenges which people with disabilities – both visible and invisible – have to address, and how her organisation provides support and enables peer-to-peer contact between students.
  • Dr Zachery Spire of UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture spoke passionately about his experience as a warden in a student residence, and his research into this building type.
  • The talks were rounded off by Neil Smith, BuroHappold’s director of Inclusive Design, and Dr Jamie Anderson, one of their Wellbeing experts, outlining the class leading research they have been doing in this area.


Professor William Leahy, Vice-Provost (Students, Staff and Civic Engagement), Brunel University London commented:


"I attended the event and found it most informative and also most progressive. Hearing about the work so many colleagues are doing in this ‘mental health and the built environment’ space is heartening.  This work, combined with the growing focus on kindness, thoughtfulness and mindfulness in our interactions at university is a real step forward”


This timely event will also inform the HEDQF Annual Conference in June 2019, where the focus will be on Health and Wellbeing.

Southampton Bolderwood Innovation Campus

November 2018


University of Southampton, with Grimshaw Architects, hosted an HEDQF visit with presentation and tours of the Bolderwood Innovation Campus, which completes in 2019 after 10 years of investment.


The buildings were unusually coherent, being designed by a consistent design team led by Grimshaw Architects, over a ten-year period, when compared to many university campuses which often have a handful of teams involved, relying on landscape and public realm to hold them together. This was picked up in discussion after the event and it was felt that the architectural and campus urban design was successful. The buildings are not self-conscious landmarks or icons, but together create a consistent and harmonious campus look and feel, that relates well to the central court, whilst connecting with the beautiful mature, heavily treed landscape setting and neighbouring detached housing. The buildings express their nautical engineering content, in subtle but legible ways and are generally very well detailed.


Nevertheless, it was felt that perhaps more could have been done to activate the central landscape court and manage the accommodation of car parking. Modest car park buildings are included, perhaps these could have been larger to free up more of the central landscape. This could have enabled the growth of more mature trees (In keeping with the arboretum and neighbouring Southampton Common) and also perhaps have created further interface between the lower ground floor research workshops and the central landscape? This might have encouraged greater active use of the green spaces in addition to providing a visual resource.


The sustainability credentials of the project were questioned. The masterplan includes a CHP and the BREEAM certification of each building completed has risen from Very Good initially to Excellent at completion of the masterplan. Two points were made in particular; that over 10 years BREEAM has changed, and that also in a project with phased delivery, when the CHP is in a later phase the scoring is not set-up to recognise later phases.


Procurement & change management, was discussed in the context of this being a long project over 10 years - from masterplan to completion - creating four new buildings, central landscaped court and car parking.  Inevitably numerous brief and design changes needed to be accommodated, the contractual arrangements facilitated this quite well, but lessons could be learnt. The point was raised that with change that could be anticipated, although the exact detail not yet known the question was raised whether a 2 stage D&B with basic methods for managing variations was the best contractual method. Would a shell and core approach, similar to a commercial setting be more accommodating to change and avoid difficult contractual situations?


The afternoon was well received by around 35 delegates, with thanks to University of Southampton, to Grimshaw Architects and to HEDQF for facilitating.

University of Nottingham HEDQF Reference Visit

September 2018


55 HEDQF members visited University of Nottingham in September to take a look around the latest buildings and hear from the University’s Estates team on their plans for future development which places students at the heart of the campus aligned with their Global 2020 Vison.


The day was hosted at Make Architects’ new Teaching and Learning Hub (TLH), which opened for the new student term.


Delegates heard from the Pro Vice Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, Professor Sarah O’Hara, who spoke on the significant step change in strategy for the future of educational provision at the University  – specifically for ‘Generation Alpha’ – and the need to go beyond the ordinary in building design. This was followed by the new Director of Estates, Linda Goodacre, who talked about the University’s plans to deliver that step change.


David Patterson from Make Architects talked about how the welcoming and flexible spaces within the TLH will deliver a broad spectrum of adaptable teaching and learning environments. And how the building achieved excellent value for money through a rigorous design approach and maximising building efficiency/occupancy. Patrick Nee from Hopkins ended with a comprehensive presentation on the expansion and redevelopment of the George Green Library, the most used library on the University’s campus.


A tour of both buildings then followed.


HEDQF thanks Make and Hopkins for sponsoring the event and University of Nottingham for accommodating yet another very successful reference visit.


For further information please contact:


Sarah Worth or Liz Glassford at Make                    

+44 (0)20 7636 5151                                                       




Mandy Hooker 

+44 (0)20 7852 3614

Annual Conference 2018: University 2040


When: 28 June 2018

Where: University of London


The fourth Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF) Annual Conference at University of London's Senate House was launched with a key-note speech by the LSE's Professor Ricky Burdett CBE. In a speech with a global perspective he urged the 185 delegates to design future universities which were open and strongly connected with the cities and communities in which they are located, addressing inequality, the environment, poverty, health and lack of opportunity in these communities.  


This was followed by presentations by universities in London, Bristol, Huddersfield and Budapest, several of whom were addressing this challenge. 


There then ensued a very lively debate presented by school pupils and students on the value of design, which concluded that whilst great buildings and facilities were important, it was the quality of teaching which counted most. Futurologist, Dr.Chris Leubkeman of ARUP continued the discourse with a thought provoking presentation before delegates worked together to decide what technologies and design priorities would be most important, in future university buildings. The conference then moved on to an evening reception and tour of the new Bartlett School of Architecture and its 2018 degree show to view the work of designers of the future. 

Workshop on Place-making and Visit to the University of East Anglia


When: 5th June 2018

Where: Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia


The University was one of the new post-war universities, opening in 1963 on its 130 hectacre site in Norwich. The first new buildings were designed by Denys Lasdun. The campus has evolved since then, including Norman Foster's Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts which opened in 1978, and the University has gained a reputation for sustainable buildings, not least in its new Enterprise Centre opened in 2015 and described as 'Britain's Greenest Building'.


This event comprises an interactive workshop on placemaking, wayfinding and movement strategy, linked to work by BuroHappold, followed by presentations on the current strategy, the Enterprise Centre and the Julian Study Centre, followed by visits ending with the current exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre 'Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960-1990', celebrating the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Centre.


HEDQF would like to thank Morgan Sindall who kindly sponsored this event.

Tietgenkollegiet student residences
Tietgenkollegiet student residences

2-Day Copenhagen Study Tour

When: 5th-6th May 2018

Where: IT-University, Tietgenkollegiet, Henning Larsen and the Maersk Tower.


A joint Higher Education Design Quality Forum and Association of University Directors of Estates venture to recent developments in higher education in Denmark's capital.


Twenty-five members of HEDQF and AUDE were treated to a presentation and tour led by Professor Per Rasmussenhas explaining the founding and design of the two IT-University buildings around a dynamic atrium with cantilevered, see-through, ‘open drawer’ rooms  designed by Henning Larsen Architects. The group then crossed the canal to explore the Tietgenkollegiet, a student residence with a conspicuous circular shape inspired by traditional southern Chinese Hakka architecture, with Nicolai Richter-Friis of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter. Emma, a student resident, kindly showed the group the round communal spaces and her own extraordinary room. Following this, Jacob Kurek and Eva Ravenborg led a debate about new thinking in educational design Henning Larsen's studio in Vesterbro. Discussion continued over dinner at Madklubben.


Next day, Mads Mandrup Hansen of CF Moller presented their competition-winning design concept for the Maersk Tower project at the Panum complex of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. There followed a comprehensive tour of the fabulous landscape, laboratories, offices, social areas, teaching spaces and refectory culminating with lunch at Torvehallerne. Delegates were then free to explore the countless and inspirational university and cultural projects in Copenhagen.

2 Day Visit


HEDQF West Country Visit and Meeting


When: Wednesday 7 - Thursday 8 March 2018

Where: University of Plymouth


Presentations and visits to significant developments which are part of the University of Plymouth’s masterplan, followed on the second day by presentations and a tour of the Falmouth campus jointly run by the Universities of Falmouth and Exeter.  

CAMPUS 2049: HEDQF/Buro4 Debate, 21 February 2018


It was standing room only for an excellent and wide-ranging debate on the Future of Universities with questions from the floor well answered by the panel comprising: 

  • Peter Clegg, Founding Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Nick Searl, Partner at Argent
  • Martin Hamilton, Futurist at Jisc
  • Julian Robinson, Director of Estates, London School of Economics
  • Jeremy Melvin, Curator and Writer


What were the Top Thoughts?


1.      The Impact of Technology

Inevitably the first question from the audience was, in this fast changing digital-world, what will be the impact of future digital developments.  In a week in which academic staff in many universities were going on strike, would it not be more effective if teaching was on-line? 


The view of the panel was that the digital world will be increasingly important, but in partnership with the physical world.   Universities will be places where students and staff meet and interact, both indoors and outside in the public realm.  While lectures that impart basic knowledge may progressively move on-line, universities will focus on proving an environment for being students and staff to meet, question, discuss and debate, plus provide specialist and experimental facilities such as laboratories and simulation suites.   What about the lecture theatre?  Following on from the discussion at King’s College London last year, the view the lecture theatre will refocus on being a place for inspirational lectures, and the role to impart basic information to students reduce.  There will be fewer lecture theatres, but better and more interactive. 


With AI, technology can be used as a coach/mentor and enable greater outreach.

Will technology change the way that examinations are held, with intelligence apps able to identify cheating and removing the need for examination halls and paper scripts?


2.   The shape of the Higher Education Sector

The sector is continually being challenged.  Brexit is a major issue for future student numbers and recruiting international academic staff, given the large proportion of students and staff who currently come from the EU.  So too is the political landscape with a focus on reducing cost and increasing quality. 


Has the sector lost its way in the search for ever-increasing numbers?   Will there be a refocus in universities on quality and on what they do well?  Will the future comprise a multi-tier system, with research universities, teaching/vocational universities and a much stronger and better-funded role for the further education sector, with credit transfer enabling students to move across different institutions.


The current funding model does need revision, but it is unlikely that universities will benefit from additional funding; they therefore have to continue to be imaginative about how they deliver high quality teaching and research, while reducing costs.


3.       Changing roles for universities

Universities are rediscovering their civic, entrepreneurial and community roles.  One of the reasons why major organisations want to be based at King’s Cross, for example, is the integration of major international teaching and research institutions such as the University of the Arts and the Crick, in addition to the British Library.  


In the future, the university will be a hub with many spokes and outreach programmes, potentially across the world, and have a much greater role in supporting start-ups and enterprise both inside and outside their institutions.


4.       New Opportunities

The period of large-scale university investment in the UK may be coming to an end.  The university of the future will have many partnerships, from local to international.  China may have had its day for international partnerships:  Africa is a country to watch.


New technologies and new industries such as AI, apps and robotics are growing at a phenomenal speed – how can universities take advantage of these?   Private organisations such as Dyson and Deep Mines are establishing their own universities because the higher education sector appears unable to support their needs.


5.       Breaking down barriers

Universities will be communities of scholars, with no closed corridors, and continually-increasing focus on breaking down barriers and on interdisciplinary working with a growing need for flexible, fluid spaces both inside universities and externally, with a stronger overlap with external organisations/communities.


6.       Do universities need to own their buildings?

University buildings are important parts of their brands, many of them historic, timeless, iconic buildings such as the main building at UCL or MIT.  Equally important are the spaces between the buildings and how campuses connect into the environment around them.  The majority of students will still want the campus experience and the independent life it brings.  Campuses will make students feel welcome and new technologies will personalise their experience as they move through.


On the other hand, universities of the future will have stronger connections with their local communities, with much greater permeability and research and teaching taking place in external organisations as well as in the core university buildings, while commercial and community organisations will also jointly work on projects within taking university buildings.   There may be more partnerships such as the Hive in Worcester with opportunities for universities to have flexible arrangements as much for strategic academic reasons as property ones. 


7.       How can architecture shape the future?

Architecture should delight, stimulate enable communication between different communities and different subjects.  Flexible buildings mean buildings that can easily be reconfigured to respond to future changes.  Interior design is important and should reflect personality, identity and the culture of the university.


8.       Using data more intelligently

Universities will use data more intelligently, not only in Big Data research but in creating intelligent campuses that link student activities to timetabling and space, support sustainability and wellness and perhaps at last enable the cellular office to reduce in importance….but major institutions such as Harvard need to show the way.  


In Summary

  • 2049 is a long way into the future, but the feeling was of gradual change as universities continual to evolve, rather than of seismic shifts. 
  • Universities have to respond to a number of technological, societal and political changes. This will impact on the design of future university buildings.  Digital innovation is an increasingly important partner to the physical estate.
  • University campuses will remain important, but may change in focus, with boundaries being blurred, both within universities and with neighbouring communities.
  • Architectural design is important – Universities are guardians of many iconic heritage buildings (both old and new), which give them identity across the world.  Future design that enables easy future reconfiguration is important in a fast changing world.  .
  • Universities of the future will focus on excellence at what they do (which will differ between universities), and will be able to change quickly and respond to new opportunities as they become more entrepreneurial.


Many thanks to Buro4 for sponsoring and to the excellent panellists.

Day Visit to Roehampton University, 23 January 2018


Over fifty delegates ventured to SW London to discover the University of Roehampton’s campus with historic and modern buildings set in a leafy landscape derived from when this was originally a series of country houses away from the centre of London, and recently transformed with three key buildings as part of its estate development masterplan. 


Setting the context, Reggie Blennerhassett, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Director of Finance for the University, described the university’s objectives for the masterplan, in which the new library and new student residences were key parts, along with the creation of a new avenue connecting the buildings.  Essential to gaining support from Wandsworth planners was demonstration and recognition of the economic contribution the university makes in the Borough. 


The university made the bold decision to raise the funds to complete all three buildings, to transform the experience for students on campus and, with three different architectural practices working at the same time, ensure coordination and synergy, while each building is different and responds to its own brief and site opportunities and constraints.


The Masterplan was described in more detail by Simon Henley and Noel Cash from by Henley Hale Brown, who later also outlined the design philosophy for Chadwick Hall which comprises three new student residential blocks responding to the context of two radically different historic buildings – the 18th century Georgian Downshire House and the 20th century Brutalist Alton West Estate, plus historic landscape features.  Hugo Marrack from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios presented on the new Library which provides a modern library and learning environment around a central staircase, with stunning views out across the landscape, and Michael Ritchie of MJP Architects presented on the adjacent Conference Centre and new Elm Grove student residences, designed around two quadrangles which take lessons about community from Oxbridge precedents.  An aim of both residential developments is to engender the sense of community and identity for the students living there and, also through the views out across the campus, reinforce the sense of identity with the university itself. 


The day included a discussion on the increased importance of residences as part of university life, which was key to Roehampton’s brief, with an additional contribution from David Campbell from student residential provider Alumno and Ghazwa Alwani-Starr, previously at Roehampton and now at The University of London, outlining the work being done with the GLA to input into the London Plan and support future university development in London.


When, so often, estates masterplans are implemented in a piecemeal fashion, it is good to see what Roehampton has achieved with these three well-designed projects, including insisting that it was building for the long term and would maintain a focus on quality, even when cost and other pressures were tight.


Many thanks to all the contributors and to the University of Roehampton for hosting the event. 

Designing Out Risk 


Debate and discussion on designing out risk in projects, held at AECOM’s offices on 6th December 2017 


In 27 AD, an amphitheatre in Fidenae collapsed with between 20,000 and 50,000 people killed or injured.  Constructed from wood, it was packed with spectators after the Emperor Tiberius had lifted a ban on gladiatorial sports and is recorded as the earliest and worst stadium disaster in history. History is littered with building failures, including projects which have seriously run over the original budget and programme. 


Chaired by Ian Caldwell, Tony Llewellyn, Collaboration Director of  Resolex, Stewart Dabin from the Fire Engineering Team at AECOM and Neil Allfrey, Associate Partner at Penoyre & Prasad explored different aspects of risk and how to design it out, followed by an audience discussion.


Tony Llewellyn explored the issue of people and behaviours, and how professionals need good training in social skills, to match their training in technical and commercial skills, so that they can negotiate and influence, especially when major issues arise and how, despite risk registers and the like, design teams were very often not good at understanding the full complexity of a project and managing the real risks.  Project teams are comprised of people and they have their own characters, often being too optimistic, moving too fast, or not wanting to hear bad news and ignoring early warning signals.  There is also culture and politics, which may drive a project on regardless, a characteristic of some of the projects which have gone disastrously over budget and programme.   Key conclusions are that social intelligence is a key aspect of risk management, project teams should check their assumptions, there should be systems in place to catch early warning signals and important information should not be filtered out, as it often is. 


Stewart Dabin provided an update of the current views on good practice in fire engineering, focussed on higher education buildings which are often quite complex, such as with laboratories or scientific facilities, have unique hazards, are multi-user and have occupants of different ages and mobility.   In addition higher education buildings including many historic and listed buildings.


In general, higher education institutions are conscious of risks, require designers to go above and beyond building regulations and have fire officers within the institution to give expert advice. Key to successful fire engineering is the early involvement of fire engineers and the London Plan proposes that a fire engineering plan is included in the technical information in planning submissions.


Stewart then presented successful education examples including the Early Australian Stamford Years (EASY) project in Singapore, with the challenge of being a multi-level building occupied by young children from 18 months to 5 years, the Aga Khan University for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at King’s Cross, London, where the client wanted an open atrium running up through the building, and Sebastian Street for City, University of London, which had the complication of connecting into an existing building.


Neil Affrey then presented the successful recladding of Guy’s Tower, at the heart of Guy’s hospital at London Bridge, surrounded by hospital buildings and housing a mixture of uses including a large number of floors occupied by King’s College, London including the Dental Institute and other research departments. 


Neil explained the careful process which the project team, including Arup Facades, had gone through to gather information about a building that was several decades old and where, inevitably, drawings and records were out of date, to analyse and investigate the problems with the existing cladding both in terms of deterioration and of heat-loss, the design options developed and appraised, the choice of the procurement route, time given to the contractor to familiarise himself with the building and its constraints and, crucially prototypes of the cladding system and of the construction process to replace the windows from inside on the building itself, one of the main aims being that the building had to remain in use throughout the works with minimum disruption to the occupants. 


The discussion explored a number of issues including how project teams can cope with the ever-increasing complexity and regulation involved in modern buildings, the role of the client in not setting unreasonable time constraints, often an issue in higher education with a focus on the start of the academic year, and of the design team to manage client expectations.  Fortunately, the client for Guy’s Tower had taken the view that timetable was of second importance to finding the best solution and to minimise risk, especially in an occupied building. 


The good news is that most projects do go well.  The few that go badly are a few too many. The aim should be to ensure that risk is managed so that all projects are successful.   


Many thanks to the speakers and to AECOM for sponsoring the event. 

Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser

Is the Lecture Theatre dead? 


Debate and Discussion on the design of teaching spaces at Bush House, King’s College London on 31st October


At HEDQF’s annual conference in July 2017, Jane Bunce gave a presentation on the new campus for the University of Northampton, which is being designed with new collaborative and interactive forms of teaching, and not a traditional lecture theatre in sight.


Is this the start of a new trend?  Is the lecture theatre dead? 


The new Harvard-style lecture theatre at Bush House was filled by around 80 university and design professionals to discuss the future of the lecture theatre.  Is it dead, or is it transforming?  Some universities are still building them – but will they be extinct in a decade or two as new forms of teaching take over?


Chaired by Ian Caldwell, presentations from Keith Papa, Head of Science, Research and Technology at BDP, Andrew Harrison, Director, Spaces that Work & Professor of Practice at University of Wales, Trinity St David and Professor Andrew George, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and International) at Brunel University, London explored current trends in lecture theatres and teaching spaces from different perspectives, looking at the new generation of spaces being created in universities and also in commercial creative organisations, the role and design of the 21st century lecture theatre.  Andrew George drew this together with a description of what Brunel is planning with its new teaching building, which will complement its Brutalist centrepiece at the heart of its campus (and which featured as the sanatorium in the film Clockwork Orange).  One of the key successes of Brunel is in widening participation and its teaching and learning spaces have to be designed to support, encourage and foster ambition in students from all walks of life. 


Universities in Australia are repurposing old lecture theatres to create more flexible spaces, but one of the key lessons is that the new generation of teaching rooms require more space per person; utilisation therefore needs to go up to justify the investment in space.  There is still a role for the lecture theatre as a place for inspirational and inspiring exchange of knowledge and, at the end of the day, memories are about the lecturer, not about the space.   


The lively debate examined the role of technology and the need to support academic staff in changes of delivery, the fact that technology, pedagogy and architecture are not quite yet aligned, (too often the technology is added once the space is designed), and the importance of daylight and transparency – so that there is connectivity to adjacent spaces and perhaps also to adjacent communities.   Lectures should be on show as a key part of academic life, not hidden in darkened underground bunkers.


The view was that news of the death of the lecture theatre is premature; it is not dead, but is slowly evolving in a variety of ways.   This is no doubt a discussion which will continue into the future. 


The debate was followed by a tour of the newly refurbished spaces in Bush House, formerly the HQ of the BBC World Service where new teaching and learning spaces have been designed in contrast to the more traditional ones across the Strand in the half of the campus and drinks in the flexible space on the 8th floor.   And, yes, there is a lecture theatre, but it has been designed with the flexibility to also be a performance space. 


Thanks to the speakers, to Overbury for sponsoring the drinks and to John Robertson Architects and LTS Architects for the building tours.  

Credit: Simon Fraser
Credit: Simon Fraser

Visit to the University of Kent - Canterbury Campus on 13th September 2017


Where: Sibson Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7FS 


HEDQF visited the University of Kent’s Canterbury Campus, looking at recent projects to expand and update the campus founded some fifty years ago in 1965.  From a start of only 500 students and 150 staff, the University has grown to a major institution of over 20,000 students and over 4,000 staff.


Director of Estates, Peter Czarnomski, explained the University’s recent exercise to develop future plans to update and expand the campus to accommodate growth, one of the major advantages being that the relationship with local communities had been enhance through the extensive consultation with them, whereas 50 years ago there was a feeling that the university had been imposed on them.


Visits to recent projects included the 1960’s Brutalist Templeman Library at the heart of the campus which has been transformed with phased extension and refurbishment to accommodate new ways of study and learning, with the challenge of remaining in use throughout, the Widoger Law Building which accommodates a Moot Court and Law Clinic and the Sibson Building which has successfully brought together two Schools – Business and Mathematics - into one 8.000 sq m interconnected building, around a central atrium, achieving a more successful building than if the two had been separate and encouraging academic synergies and enabling sharing of learning and teaching spaces, all set within woodland on the northern edge of the campus.


Paul Verrion, School Manager of Kent Business School, Ian Goodfellow of Penoyre & Prasad and Adam Worrall of Willmott Dixon Construction will provide insight into the challenges and opportunities of bringing the two schools together and of delivering, in a live campus environment, the largest new building since the founding of the University.  It was encouraging to hear about and experience the dedication to achieving quality in the new building, even though it was procured at a difficult time of rising prices in the building industry. 


Thanks to the University of Kent, the speakers, Ian Goodfellow for organising the day and to Willmott Dixon for sponsoring the visit.

Evening Seminar & Visit


Moving off campus – challenges and opportunities 


When: 5 September 2017, 18.00-20.00

Where: UCL School of Management, Level 38, One Canada Square, London E14 5AA


With space at a premium, especially on constrained urban estates, many universities are looking to move their facilities elsewhere. Following UCL School of Management’s relocation from Bloomsbury to Canary Wharf, this seminar explored the challenges and opportunities of creating a functional, high quality, self-contained space off of the main campus. With a design approach that responds cleverly to the brief, the School of Management provides an exemplary environment for learning, teaching and working. 


Key speakers:

Julian Robinson, Director of Estates, LSE (Chairman)

Justine Fletcher, Estate Strategy Manager, UCL

Bert de Reyck, Professor and Director of School of Management, UCL

Matthew Goulcher, Managing Director, Levitt Bernstein

Third HEDQF Annual Conference


Breaking the Mould: Universities Supporting Industry, Enterprise and Innovation


When: 5 July 2017

Where: University of Sheffield


Government policy and capital funding is increasingly focussed on universities supporting enterprise, innovation and manufacturing, all the more so with BREXIT.  Join colleagues to hear how these changes are being embraced within universities and industry and what it means for the design of university campuses. 


Based in the “Diamond”, The University of Sheffield’s new £81 million undergraduate engineering building, the Conference looked at examples from the UK and abroad, including the University of Sheffield’s world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, in partnership with 90 companies from Boeing, Rolls Royce, BAE systems and Aerospace to small local companies and the University of Falmouth’s new enterprise centres in Cornwall.   


Teaching is changing also, responding to competition and student demands.  Learn how the new campus for Northampton University is reshaping how teaching is provided to students, without lecture theatres, and, looking at non-traditional models, how the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology is developing its new private university in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.


View the post-conference report here.

Evening Workshop


Extending Stakeholder Engagement


When: 24 May 2017, 17.00 - 19.00

Where: ResoLex, 70 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1EU



Julian Robinson from LSE discussing collaboration in design development at our RADAR Roundtable, jointly hosted by ResoLex and HEDQF.


Day Visit


WU Vienna


When: Thursday 4 May 2017, 14:00-18:00

Where: The Vienna University of Economics and Business, Welthandelsplatz 1 1, 1020 Wien


A joint Higher Education Design Quality Forum and Association of University Directors of Estates venture to the striking new Campus WU.  

This was a fantastic opportunity to join fellow members of AUDE and the HEDQF to visit the new WU campus which represents an important step in the University's development. The trip included a guided tour and presentations by the Vice Rector and Head of Campus and Facilities Management on how the campus aligns with the university’s vision for education and the practical issues of the project. 


Close to the Prater public park, and next to the exhibition centre of Vienna, the campus features six main building complexes resting on approximately ten hectares. The master plan was created by BUSarchitektur under the guidance of the architect Laura Spinadel. The buildings were designed by architectural firms from Spain, the UK, Germany, Japan and Austria. The dominant element of the campus is the Library and Learning Centre, by the late Zaha Hadid. ‘The WU Campus is a special place for research and education with a unique atmosphere. This exceptionality shall be reflected in the countenance of its architecture. The university complex shall be a landmark radiating beyond the city limits. Its architecture shall be conceived as a subject of fascination’ - from the project brief.

Day Visit


Coventry University Building Visit


When: 27 April 2017, 10.00-16.30

Where: Engineering and Computing Building, Coventry University


Coventry University have invested in a major programme of campus regeneration, transforming its largely post war city centre estate into a vibrant state-of-the-art facilities. The visit included tours to the Hub; the heart of student life and Campus health and well-being, as well as informal learning spaces, the dynamic Engineering and Computing building and the newest addition - a new Health and Life Sciences building.



Robert Talliss - Group Director of Estate Development, Coventry University

Heidi Corbet and Nick Gaskell - Hawkins\Brown, The Hub Building

The Hub: Jacqueline Fazakarley, Customer Service Manager, Coventry University

Engineering and Computing Building: Elizabeth Smith, Operations Director, Faculty of Engineering, Environment & Computing

On site: Health and Life Sciences Building, Mark Evans (Broadway Malyan) and Alan Bell (BAM).

Evening Debate


What can Higher Education Institutions and the Private Science Sector learn from each other?


When: 20 April 2017, 17.30

Where: B200 Lecture Theatre, City University London, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB


A chaired debate on whether Higher Education Institutes can learn from Independent Research Specialists, and a review of the positive knowledge sharing between the Private Science and Higher Education sectors. Chaired by Kevin Gibbons, Director, Property & Facilities, City University London.



  • Martino Picardo, CEO, Stevenage BioScience Catalyst
  • Prof. Gerry Ackerman, Head of Strategic Partnerships, University College London
  • Nick Benn, Director, BMJ Architects
  • Rob Burborough, Partner, 3PM  
Image credit: Wilkinson Eyre
Image credit: Wilkinson Eyre

Day Visit


Cambridge University


When: 5 April 2017, 10.00 - 18.00

Where: Sainsbury Laboratory, Bateman Street, Cambridge, CB2 1LR


A day-long exploration of some major established and new buildings in Cambridge, gaining some insights into some of the most ambitious investment plans of any university in the UK.

Included visits to the Stirling Prize-winning Sainsbury Laboratory and the Attenborough Building on the New Museums Site. Lunch at Girton College with an introductory talk by the Mistress, Professor Susan Smith, followed by a talk by Heather Topel on masterplans for West and North-west Cambridge. We visited both of these sites, including tours of the iconic Schlumberger Gould Research Building and the new Maxwell Building for the Cavendish Physics Lab. We also heard about the current £350 million scheme to rebuild the Cavendish on the West Cambridge site.

Evening Visit


FUTURE + HERITAGE SYNERGY: 20th Century heritage reinvigorated for 21st Century student and academic needs 


When: 16 February 2017, from 17.00

Where: School of Oriental and African Studies, Paul Webley Wing, North Block, London, WC1E 7HX


A tour explaining how the School of Oriental and African Studies requirements for a new student hub, teaching, study and academic spaces were accommodated within an iconic Grade II listed building in the hear of Bloomsbury Conversation Area, creating a modern and enlivened student-academic centre as a focal point for its centenary celebrations.

Evening Round Table


The UEA Enterprise Centre – A Collaborative Exemplar, 9 February 2017


Professor John French shared his experience of leading this multi award-winning project and the approach he took to managing the stakeholders who included the European Regional Development Fund, BRE, Norwich Research Park, BBSRC, UEA and incoming start-up clients




The challenges and complexities of academic space, 8 February 2017, University of Reading


The sector continues to wrestle with the tension between open/collaborative spaces and traditional cellular offices. Academia is sometimes referred to as the last bastion of the old notion of an enclosed office. This can be a difficult and controversial subject and this debate used case studies and experiences to illustrate good practice.

Evening Debate


Achieving high-performance buildings: What can the higher education sector and the private sector learn from each other?, 25 January 2017

Buro Four, 1 Naoroji Street, London, WC1X 0GB

Listed buildings in universities: opportunities and challenges (01 November 2016)


More than thirty members of HEDQF gathered in the magnificent surroundings of the Queen Anne Wing of the University of Greenwich’s campus in the Old Royal Naval College to consider the issue of listed buildings and their role in the higher education estate. 


The meeting had three themes. The first was the way in which the University of Greenwich had adapted the Grade I buildings by Wren, superbly located by the Thames, for educational use. Michael Flanagan, Director of Estates and Facilities at Greenwich, who was our host for the afternoon, took us through the history of the site and also explained that, after fifteen years of occupation, the University is now working up a scheme for refurbishment in which design detail will be crucial. Michael and his colleagues also led us on a fascinating tour, including the undercroft (above) and the stair (pictured below), which leads to what must be one of the most spectacular Vice Chancellor’s Offices in the UK. 


The second presentation turned our attention to the wider context of listing nationally. Dr Roger Bowdler (Director of Listing at Historic England) took us through the history of listing and the current processes involved. Roger emphasized his keenness to engage with universities in both masterplanning and the likelihood of future listings and the detailed consideration of individual schemes.


The third element of the programme was a fascinating presentation by Amir Ramezani of Avanti Architects on their scheme for the Florey Building at Queen’s College, Oxford. Designed by James Stirling and opened in 1971, the building has 75 student rooms located on a site by the Cherwell. Controversial from the start, the now-listed building is soon to be renovated, with a degree of internal reorganisation and external addition. 


The meeting concluded with an excellent round table discussion chaired by Julian Robinson (LSE) when the speakers were joined by Richard Brookes of Turley and Pia Berg of Penoyre Prasad.


We are most grateful to the University of Greenwich for hosting a very successful meeting and to Turley for their generous sponsorship of refreshments before and afterwards.


All photo credits, Simon Fraser.


Philip Ogden

Chair, HEDQF


Photo Credit: Simon Fraser

Future Campus – The University of the Future, 12 July 2016 


Our second annual conference at UAL.


Click here for further details of all past and upcoming conferences.

Photo credit: Ben Bisek for WilkinsonEyre

Oxford, 17 March 2016 

The day included tours of: 

  • Weston Library: New public areas, reading rooms & special collections archive (Giles Gilbert Scott, 1924. Remodelled by WilkinsonEyre, 2014)
  • Radcliffe Observatory Quarter 
  • Blavatnik School of Government (Herzog de Meuron Architects, 2015)
  • Mathematics Building (Rafael Viñoly  Architects, 2013)
  • Middle East Centre, St Antony's College (Zaha Hadid Architects, 2015)
  • Biochemistry Building (Hawkins Brown, 2008)
  • Earth Sciences Building (WilkinsonEyre, 2010)

Dublin, 8 December 2015


When the bottom dropped out of the Celtic Tiger in 2008, Dublin Institute of Technology’s dream of building a new campus in the grounds of a former mental asylum seemed doomed.  However a Public-Private Partnership initiative came to the rescue of the Moore Ruble Yudell masterplan and the Grangegorman project is now well underway.


In December last year, a twenty-five strong group from the Higher Education Design Quality Forum toured the newly landscaped, inner city campus and learned about the city planning background, the complex PPP procurement model and DIT’s approach to design management. The scheme involves the provision of new science and arts faculties, a student hub, a replacement psychiatric hospital, a health centre and school in and around the historic Grangorman buildings. The former Dublin City Planner, Dick Gleeson and key members of the development team shared their experience with the group (including estates staff from a number of UK universities including London, Leeds and Plymouth) and discussed lessons learned.


A briefing note with key findings is to be published soon.


In contrast with DIT’s ground-breaking campus development, the HEDQF were also invited to visit three libraries at Trinity College Dublin. The three represented varying stages of Trinity’s grand history: the antique Old Library with its high barrel vault, the brutally horizontal arrangement of the Berkeley Library designed by Ahrends Burton & Koralek in the 1960s and the box-witihin-a-box Long Room Hub, completed in 2011. Each of these superb projects reflects how knowledge was stored and disseminated, at the time of conception, in their own exquisite manner.


Manchester, 16 June 2015

First Annual Conference - The University and the City


This conference was organised together with the Manchester School of Architecture, which is part of both Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University and is located in The Corridor, a unique business location in 243 acres at the heart of Manchester’s knowledge economy, the largest academic campus in the UK and the largest clinical academic campus in Europe.


During the day, conference sessions and discussion explored and debated aspects of those relationships in Manchester, elsewhere in Great Britain, and internationally and considered the role that design and sustainability have in achieving success and reinforcing the identity of the city-university partnership. Students gave insights into their experiences and the conference fostered a discussion on how to join up development sites for the benefit of the people who live and work in the city and for the university. Delegates also had the opportunity to take part in optional tours of adjacent projects.

Regent Street Cinema, London - 9 September 2015

- Bringing new life to Britain's first cinema through a sensitive adaptation and restoration


This popular visit took place at the University of Westminster. In its earlier guise as the original Polytechnic Institution, the venue became the first place in Britain to show moving pictures to a paying audience in 1896 when the Lumière brothers used their new Cinématographe. Following a major project, the University re-opened the Regent Street Cinema in May 2015 as 'the birthplace of British cinema'.


This subject proved of great interest to participants because it covered issues relating to planning, viable business uses, financing arrangements, intricate and sympathetic design, equipment, and an interior intervention that helped to convey the cinema's story. The ultimate objective of creating a facility that meets the demands of the modern film industry, as well as the use of historic projection methods, has been achieved. It is one of the few in the country to show 16mm and 35mm film as well as the latest in 4K digital film. The 187-seat Regent Street Cinema is an outlet for students, researchers and senior academics engaged in the University’s programmes for film production and cinematography, and creates a unique bridge to the international film world. Events held there range from repertory screenings and premieres through to documentaries and animation. 


The setting is of a classic cinema with echoes of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods that also has shades of more recent eras too. Originally built in 1848, the Regent Street building had a strong connection with innovation from the very start. The Polytechnic pioneered many forms of invention and discovery and in recent years the space had become used as a lecture hall. The University was supported in the £6m cinema project by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Quintin Hogg Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and many others. It took three years in the planning and business case preparation and then eighteen months on site to complete the works.


The HEDQF visit to the cinema took the form of a welcome address from the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Petts, followed by a series of presentations from the project delivery team which included the architect, Tim Ronalds, and the main contractor, Overbury. 

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