Client: Royal Holloway University
Architect: Stride Treglown
Contractor: Laing ORourke
Type of works: 570 student rooms. VELFAC aluminium and wood composite glazing.
Royal Holloway University, part of the University of London, is among the top ten research-led university institutions in the UK, and is home to a community of 7,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. One of the newest additions to the campus is the Gowar and Wedderburn student accommodation complex, designed by architect Stride Treglown and featuring VELFAC aluminium and wood composite glazing throughout. Visually interesting and environmentally sensitive, the buildings accommodate 570 student bedrooms, together with communal spaces, and feature sedum planted roofs and cedar shingles to reflect the surrounding woodland.
A key challenge was to introduce striking, contemporary design into an environment which comprised both world-famous high Victorian architecture and natural woodland. Architect David Hunter explains how Stride Treglown responded to this particular challenge: The fundamental concept of the Gower and Wedderburn design was to retain the genius loci of the setting, and impact as lightly as possible on the ecology of the site. As a result, the buildings are arranged around a central, informally landscaped space and are clad in cedar shingles. The undulating planted roof, which visually responds to the deciduous trees surrounding the site, is the only element of the development visible from the surrounding area. And despite its apparent complexity, the design uses the simplest of identical blocks of accommodation to maximise opportunities offered by prefabricated and standardised components.
The architect, Stride Treglown, specified VELFAC glazing throughout the development, as VELFAC standard units were able to meet the brief, both in terms of visual impact and sustainable performance. David Hunter explains: We were particularly interested in the visual simplicity of the VELFAC system and the fact that both fixed and opening lights maintain the same appearance. In addition, the inner wood frame of the composite window contributed well to the aesthetic effect we were seeking to achieve in both the study bedrooms and the communal spaces: one of simple, uncluttered rooms neutrally decorated in order to allow students to personalise their own living areas. In this respect, the VELFAC system is well suited to this environment.