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Grafton reveals contest-winning Kingston University scheme

These are the first images of Grafton Architects’ competition-winning scheme for a new ‘flagship building’ at Kingston University

The 2013 Stirling Prize-shortlisted practice beat O’Donnell and Tuomey, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Haworth Tomkins, and Bennetts Associates to bag the New Town House Building project at the Surrey university’s Penrhyn Road Campus late last year.

The latest phase of the wider campus redevelopment plan, the scheme will be the institution’s largest project to date and the Dublin-based practice’s first London job.

The judges in the RIBA Competition were wowed by the ‘long-span spaces’ of Grafton’s design and the ‘special, dynamic learning environments [created by the] colonnades, sequence of exposed decks, loggias and unifying fingers of landscape’.

Sean Woulfe, director of estates delivery at the university added: ‘The careful stepping of the building profile respects our neighbours while providing an array of interesting external spaces which will contribute to biodiversity and sustainability. The excitement of the colonnades and external study gardens and landscaping will contribute to the activity and life of the town.’

The architects’ view

Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, directors of Grafton Architects

‘We found the educational vision, as expressed in the brief for the building, extremely progressive and inspirational.  The building we designed was a direct response to this vision which called for openness, interaction, connection with the community of students and connection with the wider community of Kingston. 

‘The request for an ‘open university’ in the true sense of the word, combining a rich mix of activities ranging from performance, to exploratory teaching and learning, to quiet contemplative research, led us to the idea of an open three dimensional matrix of interacting volumes. 

‘We have made an active open edge to the building, integrating a colonnade to the street, cascading terraces and gardens, drawing the new landscaped civic space on Penrhyn Road, right up through the building.’

Grafton Architects’ competition-winning scheme for a new ‘flagship building’ at Kingston University - interconnecting entrance volume, second floor looking down

Grafton Architects’ competition-winning scheme for a new ‘flagship building’ at Kingston University - interconnecting entrance volume, second floor looking down

Previous story (AJ 06.12.13)

Grafton wins Kingston University contest

Grafton Architects has seen off hot competition in the contest to design a ‘flagship building’ for Kingston University

The Stirling Prize-shortlisted practice beat O’Donnell and Tuomey, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Haworth Tomkins, and Bennetts Associates to bag the Dublin-based practice’s first London job.

The scheme is the latest phase of the university’s new campus development plan, and will be the institution’s largest project to date.

Kingston University’s director of estates delivery Sean Woulfe said the building would form a key gateway to Kingston town centre.

Woulfe commented: ‘Grafton Architects emerged as the winners from a strong shortlist of entries.

‘They have an international reputation for designing thoughtful, beautifully detailed buildings in the higher education sector’.

Previous story (AJ 31.07.13)

Top practices among finalists in Kingston Uni contest

A strong shortlist has been named in the contest to design a major new building for Kingston University.

Dublin-based Grafton Architects, whose University of Limerick scheme is shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, is one of five practices in the running for the New Town House Building.

Bennetts Associates and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios both also made the cut for the scheme, which is being billed as ‘the public face of Kingston University’.

Haworth Tompkins and O’Donnell & Tuomey complete the shortlist of firms vying to create the gateway to the Penrhyn Road campus. 

Kingston University vice-chancellor professor Julius Weinberg said: ‘The quality of the entries was very high and I am extremely pleased with the shortlist. 

‘We are excited about working with the eventual winner and together creating a quality new building which will transform learning for our students.’ 

The five teams will now prepare a tender return and concept design outlining the proposed architectural, building services and structural approach for the scheme.

A winner in the RIBA-backed competition is expected before the end of the year.

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