Rural Response | University of Surrey in Architecture Today

Designed by MJP Architects, the Manor Park Residences form part of a new University of Surrey campus on the western edge of Guildford, and adopt a design language that responds to that semi-rural condition. The three large blocks of 953 rooms occupy a crescent-shaped site, bounded to the front by a new street and with a line of trees to the rear.

Link to Architecture Today Article

The buildings present a series of gables to the road, rather like a series of converted barns. In this way, the design responds to the university’s masterplan aim of creating a transition between the rural and urban landscape. The buildings are arranged around a series of interlinked semi-private courtyards, some enclosed, some open to the road. Courtyard planning creates an attractive living environment which encourages community interaction, while optimising the use of the land.

The buildings present a series of gables to the road, rather like a series of converted barns

Jeremy Estop, Director, MJP Architects

The alternating gables and lower link blocks give a varied skyline. The masterplan earmarked the site for five storey buildings, but the top floor rooms are within the roof space and the linking buildings drop to three storeys to reduce the overall scale. Ribbon windows under the eaves are intended to “visually lower” the roofline on some of the flank elevations. Attention is drawn to large ‘bay’ windows at focal points in the elevations – such as the centre of elevations – which identify the shared kitchen and dining rooms.

In specifying a limited palette of strong durable materials – brick, slate roofing, and aluminium windows and curtain walling – MJP was keen to create architecture with “collegiate” character appropriate to this setting, and one which will weather well and minimise maintenance. The thermal mass of the brickwork and concrete structure also play a role in efforts to maximise passive environmental control and minimise energy requirements, as does a well-insulated envelope with high air-tightness, and heat reclamation in the ventilation system.

Client: University of Surrey

Architect: MJP Architects

Structural Engineer: Waterman

MEP Consultant: Hamson Barron Smith

Quantity Surveyor: Huntley Cartwright

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