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University of Surrey holds closed contest for new student union


The University of Surrey has launched an invited contest for a new-build £10-£12 million student union building – less than a year after picking HLM to refurbish its existing 1972 building

The competition will select a design team for a new building to replace the current ‘life expired’ facility (pictured) on the university’s Stag Hill Campus in Guildford.

It is understood longlisted teams include Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Jestico + Whiles, John McAslan + Partners, MJP, Hawkins\Brown, Sheppard Robson, Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt, and HLM.

The procurement process comes almost a year after HLM won a £3.8 million project to extend and refurbish the Maguire and Murray Architects-designed Brutalist landmark known as Union House.

The university’s latest brief says: ‘While the basic elements of student life remain the same, experience has shown that the needs of each generation change and with it their union. The ability to flex and adapt the internal spaces in the future is therefore key.

‘Student life is 24/7, and so their building must be able to meet this demand also. Where there is scope for one space to fulfil several functions in a flexible manner then that should be exploited, however not at the expense of the quality of experience.’

The University of Surrey was established in 1966 and specialises in science, engineering, medicine and business. It now hosts more than 14,000 students.

The majority of buildings on the Stag Hill campus, next to Guildford Cathedral, were designed by BDP and completed between 1968 and 1972.

The 3,100m² Union House on the eastern side of campus features bars, cafés, lounges, performance areas and offices.

HLM’s refurbishment of the existing Union House had been planned to complete in 2018, and involved an ‘extension, adaptation and refurbishment over three floors.’

The new competition asks for ‘fresh and modern students union building, which is a welcoming and friendly place to socialise, relax and seek support for the student community.’

The building will feature a flexible events space, offices, catering facilities, a sound proof radio station and TV studio, a lounge, meeting area, learning space, a 1,600-capacity night club, a 500-seat theatre, a cinema, and 15 teaching rooms. It is planned to complete in 2020.

The winning team, due to be announced in October, will develop the Design and Build project from RIBA Stage 0 to 6. 


Readers' comments (2)

  • If the existing building is designed by Maguire and Murray then it should be examined carefully to see whether it cannot be retained - as originally intended it would seem. The legacy of the 1960s is not so entirely useless, especially when designed by architects such as M&M.

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  • Mr Pevsner

    Disappointing invited list.

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