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HLM completes 205-room student residence for the University of St Andrews

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The 6,570m² block is arranged around a courtyard with social spaces located to the west of the scheme

HLM was appointed in 2016 to develop proposals for a new annexe across from the existing Agnes Blackadder Hall, as part of the largest expansion of student accommodation at the university in over a decade. 

Located within the North Haugh Campus, Powell Hall provides 205 student bedrooms with interactive social and common spaces. Inspired by the courtyard blocks of the existing hall, the scheme is arranged in a three-sided U-shape, wrapping around a new quad.

Hlm uosa powell hall 7 © david barbour photography

The building’s programme of social spaces versus accommodation is reflected externally by the choice of materials on its facade. Elevations bounding the site incorporate light buff solid masonry and light grey polished concrete cladding panels while the social, study and common spaces are located in prominent positions highlighted by zinc detailing. Angled window pods offer views northwards – referencing the Cateogry A-listed Andrew Melville Hall to the west, designed by James Stirling.

Social and common spaces are also housed in a double-height space to the west, which has an active ground-floor frontage. Students pass through these spaces upon entering the building.

Hlm uosa powell hall 10 © david barbour photography

Architect’s view

A key outcome of the brief development was that students wanted a space to meet people, collaborate, learn and play, as well as spaces that would enhance the social living experience to support academic and personal growth. Our new residences for St Andrews are designed to have a wide array of common spaces to foster communication between different demographic groups of students and different study disciplines to reflect the university’s mission of interdisciplinary collaboration.

At Powell Hall for example, a double-height space at ground and first floors to the west provides social and common space close to the Blackadder hall and a welcoming ground-floor frontage to the new annexe. Designed to be a key meeting place and social hub, it accommodates a good balance of social, informal and formal spaces to provide students with plenty of choice. Those spaces include a games room, cinema room, private dining room, large social breakout space and informal learning spaces. Students are drawn through these spaces upon entering the building along the route to the main vertical circulation cores, encouraging interaction and helping to foster a sense of community. These social spaces in turn have controlled access to the adjacent landscaped quads, enlivening the external spaces.

Ross Barrett, associate, HLM Architects

Powell ground floor ga

Client’s view

The brief was to offer high-quality student accommodation that is responsive to individual student needs and to create communities where students can live, learn and grow. Study and social spaces were top of the agenda, along with a range of bedrooms, from standard rooms with shared shower facilities to en-suite and accessible bedrooms. Communal kitchen, dining and social spaces were to be provided for each group of five students to give them full cooking and dining facilities and a lounge area to relax and socialise, while the bedrooms were to be on a ‘hotel’ type corridor style similar to our traditional residences.

HLM’s design for Powell Hall was immediately pleasing. It not only responded positively to adjacent academic buildings in its rectilinear design and straight lines, but also referenced elements of the nearby James Stirling residence of Andrew Melville Hall with its pop-out windows. With a clever choice of materials and colours, the building looks new and modern but does not put surrounding older buildings to shame. Internally spacious, bright social areas mixed with cosy study spaces and colour-coded floors provide students with all the elements they need to create a vibrant community. Each en-suite bedroom has been smartly designed to maximise natural light while the fitted furniture gives students ample storage and a good space to rest or study. Quite an achievement!

Sylvie Fergus, project manager and finance, residential and ausiness services at the University of St Andrews

Powell courtyard section ew

Project data

Start on site July 2017
Completion October 2018
Gross internal floor area 6,570m²
Form of contract Design & Build
Construction cost £15 million
Construction cost per m2 £2,280
Architect HLM Architects
Client University of St Andrews, Campus Living Villages
Structural engineer Woolgar Hunter
M&E consultant Atelier Ten
Project manager Gleeds
QS Gleeds
Project manager Adams Consulting Group
Planning consultant JLL
Fire engineer JGA
Landscape consultant Ironside Farrar
Acoustic consultant Sandy Brown Associates
Principal designer HLM Architects
Approved building inspector Fife Council
Main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine
CAD software used ArchiCAD
Annual CO2 emissions 15.41kg/m²
Energy performance certificate (EPC) A
BREEAM rating Excellent

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