Wernick Buildings Ltd - Students' Union gets fast track building solution
The Students’ Union at London South Bank University (LSBU) is
always busy. It serves 20,000 students who come from a wide
range of backgrounds that are as diverse as London’s population
has always been. So, when it became necessary to relocate the
Students’ Union (SU) for 2 years, at short notice, the hunt was
on for a rapid accommodation solution. The successful design
would have to be completed as quickly as possible and facilitate
the University’s extensive re-development plans. The SU is an
organisation with a large financial turnover so there could be
no cessation of the vast array of campus functions it
accommodates, not least the housing of the essential social
aspects of campus life.
With ten construction companies pitching for the business, it rapidly became apparent to the University that the solution could only be met by a modular construction method if the tight timescale was to be met.
Neath Abbey based Wernick Buildings won the contract with a design that would meet the University’s budget parameters and time scale, as well as the SU’s requirement for a multi-functional building.
The design had to meet the needs and requirements of the SU’s many clubs and societies and house the offices for the elected officers and managerial and administrative staff. The building would also be used by some outside organisations that use the facilities and generate additional revenue for the SU. To meet all these requirements the University agreed a two-storey, 1100 square metre design which includes offices, meeting rooms and a radio station studio on the first floor. The ground floor has a reception area and a 370 square metre multi-functional hall, flanked by a café, bar and stage area. The hall can be split using large folding doors, allowing the ground floor to cater for two simultaneous functions. The doors also create an alcohol free area that was a prerequisite of the design as the SU wished to cater for all users.
Outwardly the design had to satisfy the LSBU’s long-term objectives to influence the public perception of the University through the quality of its buildings. To achieve this, the University has identified a menu of projects that will involve the radical renovation of existing accommodation, create new buildings, and significantly improve public thoroughfares that permeate the campus. Central to the plan is to bring all the faculties closer to the centre of the campus, whilst creating open spaces that will give the Elephant & Castle campus permeability and visibility. The new Students’ Union building is at the hub of all this activity.
Mike Hogg, the SU’s General Manager commented, “We have had very positive feed back from the students and the many outside bodies that hire the centre. Everyone says the same – it doesn’t look like a prefabricated building”. Mike continued, “I have been involved in this project from the start and can say that it has been designed to a high specification. We are very pleased with the end result”.