Earlier this year we were invited to design and furnish a new student Social Space and Refectory at the Middleton campus of Hopwood Hall College. Our brief was to create a flexible space for the young adults to eat and socialise. Having already worked with the college on several occasions, initially designing and furnishing their Learning Resource Centres and then a Social Space at the Rochdale campus, we were well equipped for the challenge that faced us…
This scheme was developed through a series of workshops in which the user groups (made up of staff and students) outlined their ‘wish list’ for the areas. By carrying out detailed research into all the buildings users’ needs we were able to develop the design to ensure we incorporated as many of their requests as possible.
The students wanted a bright, modern yet mature space that would include a variety of zones; somewhere they could chill out with friends or even just study in a relaxed environment, whilst the staff wanted an interior that would give them the WOW factor. Above all the college wanted a place that, combined with the other facilities they offer, would set them apart from other education establishments in the area; an innovative space that, as well as appealing to current students, would also attract new intakes in the coming years.
The process began by stripping everything back to basics in what was once the bistro to form an inspiring Social Space. Once opened up, the size of the space enabled us to create flexible zones to support different activities. Designed for group or individual study, or alternatively somewhere students can simply sit and read or hangout with friends, eye-catching bespoke tiered soft seating was added. The introduction of entertainment zones, modular curved seating, an IT hub with WiFi, pool and foosball tables and informal tables and chairs, resulted in an appealing space for all to enjoy. All the colours used in the furniture were selected to bring a vibrant, inspiring feel. Contrasting floor textures including a funky ‘grassed’ area help to define zones and separate areas without the need for solid walls. Due to the popularity of the social space at the Rochdale campus we introduced stunning ‘sky’ graphics to the walls to complete the look of the space.
For the Refectory our goal was to deliver a dining facility that not only accommodated all of the students but also provided a ‘coffee shop’ feel; something that the focus group highlighted as a ‘must have’. As we were bringing all the dining facilities into one area the design and furnishing of the Refectory was driven by headcount, therefore extensive space planning was key to the success of the project. We achieved this by introducing cafeteria style tables and chairs and booth seating. The loose furniture supplied can be easily reconfigured to suit the needs of the students and college, making the space extremely flexible. Feature hard wearing flooring, incorporating the college colours, helps to direct traffic around the space.
All works were carried out during the summer break. The result is another impressive new facility for this ‘outstanding’ college, one that we are once again proud to have been involved with. www.whitespace.org.uk