Uni Park set for new £17m teaching building

Apparently it will ‘transform’ our lives

The university has submitted plans for a new £17m building next to Hallward which will transform the face of Uni Park.

The five-storey development will house teaching and learning facilities and have a maximum capacity of nearly 18,000 students. The plans reveal that the existing provision of learning spaces “does not meet current demand or flexibility to changing needs of students and teachers”, indicating that we are currently putting up with inadequate facilities.

There is no current timescale on construction, but the planning brief states that the building will be “a mix of comfortable, collaborative teaching and learning spaces fit for 2020”, so chances are you will probably never actually get to use it.

The building will be home to a lecture theatre, numerous seminar rooms, computer rooms, flexible learning spaces and a performing arts space, perfect for everyone studying drama. This will form part of a new Learning Quarter that also includes Hallward Library and the Portland Building.

Chris Jagger, the Chief of Estates, said: “The new building will correct the imbalance of teaching facilities which we have at the minute. Its position next to the library is a no-brainer because it pulls everything together.

“There is a move away from seminar and lecture theatres to more intimate settings and this building will incorporate both. It is a significant investment and we want to move quickly on this. We hope to start on site in June. It is the latest part of our capital investment plan which is a £500 million strategy and it is critical to the future of the university.”

The new building is just one of many current developments on Uni Park, in addition to the swanky David Ross Sports Village and the never ending refurbishment of George Green. Ongoing construction on Jubilee includes the Advanced Manufacturing Building, the Technology Entrepreneurship Centre (TEC) and the second coming of the GSK chemistry building.

Sarah O’Hara, Pro-Vice Chancellor for education, said: “We have a lot of teaching space and most of it is what you would traditionally expect from a university but we now know that students want more flexibility because learning habits have changed.

“The new main lecture theatre could probably cater for around 400 students but we have designed it for 150 because students will be able to turn on their chairs and form working groups while in the room.

“The new drama studio will be completely digital enabled and we are finding that students want a formal lecture but they also want digital material to be available to them immediately which is why we are allowing sessions to be captured and played back. It has been a while since we had a big new teaching building and we are all looking forward to getting it.”