Building of the month (October)

This month our artist in residence Bill Hunt shares his interpretation of West Downs Centre, University of Winchester. 

Architect: Design Engine

Size: 7,500m2

Date: 2021

Location: Winchester

The University Design Forum were pleased to visit Winchester University’s West Downs Centre earlier this year.

The new Centre fronts the West Downs Campus facing onto the line of a Roman Road and it creates a new formal gateway. The design is formed of blocks of accommodation which enclose a ‘secret water garden’.

The Centre houses the University’s digital technology programmes and the business and management courses.  It includes a ‘drum’ shaped 250 seater auditorium, an art gallery, library teaching and social learning spaces as well as catering facilities. As part of the overall brief a space for contemplation was also included.  As part of the brief the teaching block was to have built in flexibility to allow for future change.

One of the most striking elevational elements is the knapped flint wall which forms the approach elevation and part of the internal finishes to the main entrance and reception.

The linear teaching block has a contrasting Cor-Ten brise soleil to its south façade.

A Few Notes:

  • How long does it take to build a squared metre of a knapped flint wall? Well it takes a skilled craftsman a day per square metre which equates to 400 man days to complete the flint walls of the Centre.
  • The building has a long south facing roof terrace on a good day you can see the Isle of Wight.