Posted Monday 18 May 2020
Kingston University's flagship Town House building has been unveiled as one of the finalists in the prestigious Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards. Shortlisted in the Building of the Year over £10 million category alongside six other projects, it caught the judges' eyes for its social impact, sustainability and the way the University, architects and contractors had collaborated during its construction.
The six storey structure that opened at the Penrhyn Road campus in January was designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning Grafton Architects and built by three-time Education Constructor of the Year winner Willmott Dixon. Acting as a gateway between the University and the surrounding borough, the £50 million building houses a three-floor library, a courtyard-style lecture and performance space, dance studios and a studio theatre. It also boasts cafes and two rooftop gardens with stunning views across Kingston and nearby Hampton Court Palace.
The Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2020 focus on some of the most important issues for the built environment sector. They recognise leading companies, collaborations and projects from across London and South East England - sharing best practice and inspiring others to adopt new and better ways of working that deliver outstanding results.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said the shortlisting recognised Kingston University's vision, social impact and close collaboration with both Grafton Architects and building contractor Willmott Dixon. "Town House is a stunning architectural and construction achievement - an inspirational building with a variety of spaces which break down barriers and encourage creativity and shared learning," he said. "We set out to create a world class building that gives us a strong presence in the borough and reflects the importance of our civic role within Kingston upon Thames. Town House gives everyone who studies in, works at or visits our Penrhyn Road campus access to an inspiring space in which to learn, share knowledge and develop ideas."
Sustainability was built into the fabric of the project from the outset. The SECBE judges noted Town House is rated BREEAM Excellent and includes a solar powered energy system, large sustainable urban drainage system, underfloor cooling, brown roofs and roof gardens.
The University's Director of Estates and Sustainability Sean Woulfe said the University had an ethical responsibility to build sustainably. "It is our moral obligation to consider how best to invest the energy that is required to construct a building of this scale," he explained. "It is important to our present and future students and staff that a building's embodied carbon and carbon emissions are considered over its lifetime. These issues advise our approach to design and construction from project inception."
Construction of the building began in 2017. It had been essential to work on such an important project with a contractor that fully understood the ethos and intent of the design- and was experienced in delivering quality buildings. "When a contractor and a client trust each other, it is possible to have a truly collaborative working relationship," he said.
The judging panel said Town House was a fine example of how teamwork can create unique, high quality structures for a purpose beyond profit. Managing director of Willmott Dixon London & South Roger Forsdyke said bringing Town House to life had been a truly collaborative effort with Grafton Architects, Kingston University and other partners. "From the outset we knew that the exposed concrete frame would be a key feature of this landmark building. Our challenge was to deliver a sleek, consistent and quality finish that would also hide the building services from public view," he said. "Together the decision was made to switch from an in situ concrete solution to a pre-cast, manufactured off site solution. This ensured a quality finish could be achieved and easily assembled on a tight site constrained by residential properties and the live main campus building. We are delighted to have delivered such an inspirational education space that will be enjoyed by the university and community for Find out more about Kingston University's Town House building.years to come."
The awards will be announced in October. News of the shortlisting comes just weeks after the Town House was named as a finalist in the Buildings that Inspire category in this year's Guardian University Awards.