Bluebell View, University of Warwick

The University of Warwick is a special place, it being a settlement in the middle of the countryside. The new residences sit on a sensitive site on the edge of the campus.

the challenge of the project was to add something back to the expansive lawn site, and to do so in the great tradition of the British settlement and university towns.

The project was won as a result of an RIBA organised design competition. The brief was to provide 500 bedrooms, split into 4 blocks, designed and constructed to a BREEAM excellent standard. The design encloses three distinct outside spaces and allows views through the blocks to the countryside beyond.

The University masterplan had been drawn up by MJP Architects and a site next to the Tocil ponds area had been identified. The new buildings have been strategically placed in the landscape so as to enhance the green belt setting and the amenity value of the area for the entire campus community. The spaces between the residential blocks are perceived as being as important as the buildings themselves, and each has its own identity of ‘quad’, ‘avenue’ and ‘green’. Warden’s houses are located at the south of the site and are set in private gardens.

Each residential block has four flats per level, split into two wings, and linked by a glazed link bridge. This allows views through to the landscape beyond. The concept was for these buildings to sit gracefully in the landscape, touching the ground lightly.

The living spaces are at the ends of each of the wings, enjoying the views and good aspect. Study bedrooms are arranged around the edge of the wings, orientated east and west so as not to be affected by glare and solar gain.

The building receives heating and hot water from the University’s combined heat and power system. It is well insulated and constructed to be airtight. The external wall finish is brickwork, produced using local clay, allowing the buildings and the ground to be linked in a holistic way.

The top floor flats are formed by a glazed wall system, which links this level to the sky.