It’s all about the student experience

The first phase of work on a pioneering new sports centre, designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects for the University of Oxford, featuring the UK’s first LED lit glass sports hall surface, has been completed and handed over to the university.

The innovative playing surface allows the marking lines for a variety of sports to be switched on individually via a touch screen, making it much easier to identify the boundaries of the court or pitch. The Acer Nethercott Sports Centre is a new addition to the university’s iconic Iffley Road Sports Complex, the scene of another ground-breaking first, the breaking of the four-minute mile in 1954 by Roger Bannister. Representing phase one of a major redevelopment masterplan for the complex, the centre includes the four court Acer Nethercott Sports Hall, changing rooms, reception, café, and a multi-purpose sport and fitness room.

Subsequent phases of the FaulknerBrowns masterplan include further development of the sports complex to include an additional sports hall, new activity rooms, dojo, fencing sale, squash courts, redevelopment of the grandstand with cricket nets and projectile room, and improved support for the athletics track.

Elsewhere in higher education, Middlesbrough Council has approved plans for a new Student Life Building designed by FaulknerBrowns for Teesside University. The proposals will consolidate all student-facing support, wellbeing and information services within a central location at the heart of the Middlesbrough campus to improve accessibility and the overall student experience. The project forms part of Teesside University’s ten year masterplan and estates strategy, also by FaulknerBrowns.

The building, to be constructed by Willmott Dixon, will house a range of student-centred and student-led spaces, providing information and services to inspire and empower success in learning and life. The building will be a technology-enabled environment, supporting a variety of learning styles, activities and attendance patterns. It will offer a range of flexible spaces, enabling social and collaborative learning, as well as an information zone, consulting rooms, syndicate rooms, accommodation for student welfare, disability services and a café.

University of Oxford, FaulknerBrowns Architects and Willmott Dixon are all Founder Members of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum.