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UNStudio sees off Stirling Prize winners to land new UCA business school

Uca ebs unstudio 300dpi epsom
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Dutch practice UNStudio has seen off former Stirling Prize-winners Haworth Tompkins and WilkinsonEyre to win the contest for a new business school on the University for the Creative Arts’ (UCA) Epsom campus

The firm, which made its debut in the UK with its 2017 Canaletto tower in Islington, also beat Hall McKnight and Tate Harmer to scoop the RIBA-backed competition to design the 3,728m2 project in Surrey.

The jury hailed UNStudio’s proposal as an ‘architecturally distinguished scheme’ with a ‘technically refined atrium’ which ‘would generate a suite of spaces whose fluidity and transparency aligned well with how a creative business school might function.’

The scheme, to be called the Business School for the Creative Industries, is being billed as ‘the first of its kind in the UK’ and will connect to the campus’s existing business school, known as the Market Place.

Each of the five shortlisted teams received £7,500 to participate in the contest’s  ‘negotiation phase’, during which a series of a design approach workshop sessions were held with the university before their developed design concepts were submitted in February.

In its brief, the university calls the business school ‘a unique concept that will seek to provide an environment in which the beauty and free expression of art can mix effortlessly with the rational sobriety of the business world.

‘This fusion of the creative industries and business has the goal of becoming the place where the next generation of arts entrepreneurs meet, create and turn ideas into sound business models.’

Bashir Makhoul, the UCA’s vice chancellor, said: ‘UNStudio engaged with [this] brief to create a learning and business environment for the future.

‘Facilitating the exchange of ideas is very much at the heart of the design, which reflects the creative, forward-thinking nature of our business school.’

UCA was founded 10 years ago following the merger of the Kent Institute of Art and Design and the Surrey Institute of Art and Design (SIAD). It has more than 6,000 students across campuses in Epsom, Farnham, Rochester and Canterbury.

The Epsom campus opened in 1973 (then part of SIAD’s predecessor, the Epsom School of Art and Design) and hosts the university’s fashion, graphics, music marketing and business courses.

To make way for the new building, a number of existing further education buildings and studios will be demolished.

The new business school is expected to feature a 250-capacity auditorium, a lecture theatre, IT studios, reprographics department, boardroom, meeting spaces, IT studios, incubator spaces, staff offices, a flexible foyer, and a ‘learning lounge’ with kitchenette.

Judges included UCA deputy vice-chancellor Alan Cooke; Katherine Boxall, assistant director of UCA Epsom’s business school; and Nigel Craddock, project director at Pascall + Watson and the RIBA’s architect adviser for the competition.

Shortlist in full

  • UNStudio [WINNER]
  • Hall McKnight
  • Haworth Tompkins
  • Tate Harmer
  • WilkinsonEyre Architects 

Epsom campus in Surrey

Existing Epsom campus in Surrey

Source: Image by Gillfoto

Existing Epsom campus in Surrey

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