Student Union University of Warwick Project info

Student Union

University of Warwick

MJP were vital in helping us to reconcile our brief for a quality, flexible environment with the constraints of the University’s Capital Programme.

Darren Walter
Commercial Development Manager, University of Warwick Students Union 

The original building was designed as a multi-purpose administrative building whose brief was changed to a Students’ Union whilst under construction. Since then it had become even less suitable for today’s requirements, having neither the flexibility nor the environmental performance to accommodate the range of activities expected of a modern Students’ Union building.

Sculpting into the existing The Students’ Union is the primary provider and organiser of non-academic activity within the University, and its success has a significant impact upon the experience of students within the University. Furthermore, the size, scale and reputation of the SU facility is a major factor in prospective students’ choice of HE institution.

The building is truly phenomenal and exactly as envisioned… and will deliver student and commercial services like never before.

Claire Horton, General Manager, Students’ Union 

The strategy for the new SU was to create a series of spaces of diverse scale and character to host the required uses including a multi-purpose space, atrium, pub and music club. The existing building has been opened up to create impressive 2- and 3- storey high spaces and open internal vistas and views out.

The new design was generated from the most striking features of the existing building: the arrangement of interiors based on the triangular module and the triangular concrete coffer slabs. The new cafe extention is the most pronounced example of this approach. It’s interiors are based on the triangular plan and floating roof’s shiny underside provide a striking backdrop to the Students’ Union plaza.

Copper Rooms 1 is an outstanding gig venue for live music. It’s the first time the Union has looked like an Academy-style venue that I can remember – the stage looks incredible… the PA also sounds absolutely beautiful, it’s the best sound I’ve ever heard in a venue of this type

Chris Carter, Assistant Venue Administrator

Materiality

The highly rational structure of the existing building and the rough and heavy expression of the concrete slabs and walls provided inspiration for the building redesign. Exposing or hiding the original fabric and and using materials that contrast or blend with it were the basic strategies in the interior design. Large surfaces of shiny copper, light and translucent polycarbonate, soft and warm timber and rough and cold ‘asphalt terrazzo’ were exposed against the in-situ concrete and concrete blocks to enhance the expression of the original structure and hide the areas of lower quality.

Photos: Peter Durant