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Emerging Liverpool talent Smith Young wins approval for £7m student block

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Up-and-coming Liverpool-based practice Smith Young Architects has been given the go-ahead for a £7 million student accommodation project in the city

The practice, which was recently awarded the RIBA North West Emerging Practice of the year for 2019, aims to maintain the ‘gritty’ Georgian backstreet character of the area using brick walls and gable-fronted pitched roofs.

The 111-bed studio scheme for developer Frenson, which is headed by property magnate Max Stone, is close to both Liverpool John Moores and the University of Liverpool and attempts to ’bridge’ two very different local contexts.

The western edge of the site is dominated by large industrial warehouses while the eastern boundary looks onto less intrusively scaled coach houses.

In addition to winning emerging practice of the year for 2019 at the RIBA North West awards in May, Smith Young also won a Regional Building of the Year award for Farnworth House.

The student accommodation proposal is subdivided into two distinct volumes – four storeys addressing Roscoe Street and seven storeys looking onto the Oldham Street Development Area.

But the practice wants the design to be ‘read cohesively’ as one building. ‘There is a tendency when separating a building’s volume to change the materiality, which we feel often leads to awkward unresolved junctions on this type of project,’ Smith Young said in a statement. ‘Our approach has been to minimise the palette of materials and express any changes through subtle brickwork detailing.’

The practice ‘felt passionately’ that the scheme’s primary elevations should have gable-fronted pitched roofs. ‘This decision was driven by the historic context – it seems almost every new building in the area has a flat roof as standard. In such a beautiful historic setting this prosaic approach simply feels inappropriate and derivative.’

The project will to start on site early next year and finished in mid-2021.

Floor plan 03

Floor plan 03

Floor plan


Project data

Location Roscoe Street, Liverpool, UK
Local authority Liverpool City Council
Type of project Student accommodation
Client Frenson
Architect Smith Young Architects
Planning consultant Broadgrove
Funding Private 
Tender date January 2020
Start on site March 2020
Completion June 2021
Contract duration 15 Months
Gross internal floor area 4,700m²
Form of contract Unknown
Total cost £7 Million



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