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University’s New City Centre Campus will be Open to All

“A very public space on the city’s waterfront with exhibitions by artists and photographers, an events area and a public coffee bar,” is how the architects’ project director described the unique new £35m city centre campus being built for the University of Wales, Newport.

“The new university campus is not an ivory tower,” said Chris Harding, of BDP, talking about how the campus has been designed to attract people and transform the city centre by becoming a magnet for cultural activity along the riverfront and a centre for enterprise.

“It’s symbolic that the campus is situated with its front door next to the entrance to the city’s new landmark footbridge, as public access is an integral feature of the foyer area on the ground floor.

“The building has been designed to be physically transparent and open to the city, rather than being enclosed behind high walls. People will be able to see a variety of events happening there and will be encouraged to go inside to the exhibition space which is next to a drop-in café.

“The whole atmosphere will be convivial and comfortable, and not at all institutionalised. It will be a social space with a welcoming, hotel-like environment. Everyone involved has been passionate about creating a wonderful learning environment with layered floors housing cutting edge library and learning resources, studio space, lecture theatres, galleries, restaurant facilities, and a rooftop board room.”

Chris and his colleagues at BDP have been working on the project for several years and he explained how the designs have evolved to create the perfect setting for Newport Business School and the design, film and digital media aspects of the Newport School of Art, Media and Design. Central to the design of the building has been the concept of a hothouse of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial activity that will be an essential element of the city’s regeneration.

“The aim was always to create a simple building with a sense of bringing the creative people together with the business people to share ideas in an inter-disciplinary working environment,” he said.

“What’s unique about this project is the social engineering aspect that brings together these two faculties in a cohesive and unified building that will enable people who work in diverse areas to feel part of a community. The Deans of the two Schools – Dr Tim McIntyre-Bhatty and Derek Lawther – have worked very closely with us to help achieve this vision.

“The hothouse itself will be at the heart of the building, an open plan corporate environment that will be conducive to innovative, entrepreneurial and creative working.”

Commenting on the iconic landmark status of the new campus, Chris said, “Because it’s on the edge of the river, it’s one of the first things people will see when they arrive in the city by train. We were very aware when designing the building that Newport is the gateway to Wales, and the soft curve of the roof and distinctive profile of the new campus will be an important welcoming landmark,” he added.

Construction work on the campus, the first phase of an intended £50m development for the University with partnership funding from Newport City Council and Newport Unlimited, is being carried out by Willmott Dixon. Overseeing the building work is award-winning project director Kanji Kerai who has a wealth of experience of constructing outstanding university buildings.

Email: press@newport.ac.uk


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