Posted Monday 6 January 2020
Kingston University's landmark Town House building has opened its doors to students, staff and the wider community.
Designed by this year's RIBA Gold Medal-winning firm Grafton Architects, the multi-million pound building at the Penrhyn Road campus will transform the learning experience for students and act as a gateway to the University for residents and businesses. It is the first building designed by the Dublin-based practice to be completed in the United Kingdom.
Featuring a three-floor academic library, archive, dance studios and a studio theatre, Town House also incorporates a covered internal courtyard, cafes and external balconies and walkways culminating in a rooftop garden offering stunning views across Kingston and the River Thames. An open staircase weaves through the building creating connections between the different spaces.
The new six-storey building, built by three-time Education Constructor of the Year winner Willmott Dixon, will provide students and staff with a world-class learning and teaching environment, according to Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier. "Town House is a stunning architectural achievement – an inspirational building with a variety of spaces which break down barriers and encourage creativity, shared learning and unexpected encounters," he said.
"At the start of this project we set out to create a building that gives us a real presence in the borough and that reflects the importance of our civic role within Kingston upon Thames. We wanted an inviting, welcoming environment that would allow more opportunities for collaboration between the University, local residents and businesses. We hope Town House will act as a front door and gateway for people to come and be a part of what we are delivering for the borough and wider society.
"I'm delighted that with Town House, everyone who visits, studies in and works at Kingston University now has access to a beautiful and inviting space in which to learn, socialise and just be."
With sustainability and community access central to the University's mission, Town House is a BREEAM Excellent-rated development – a leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. Its design supports and enhances the student experience, with a library that is liberating and open, allowing for informal learning, research and performance to take place organically under one roof.
Grafton Architects was selected to design the scheme from a five-strong shortlist following an international competition initiated by the University in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2013.