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Kingston University project approved

Kingston University project approved

Planning permission for a £55 million building on the existing Penrhyn Road campus of the University of Kingston has been granted by the local council.An earlier submission for the project was rejected by the planning committee, which described the proposed building as “a World War Two flak tower”. However, Grafton Architects have been successful on their second attempt.Regarding changes made to the design, a university spokesperson said: “It was very much based on the original concept. I don’t think anyone feels anything has been lost. It’s a slight scaling-back.”The main adjustments entailed setting the building further back from the rest of the structures on the same street, and making the planned colonnade thinner and shorter. The architects also provided additional drawings that showed how the building would harmonise with its surroundings.A big concern was how the proposed structure, which steps up from three to six storeys, would work with other buildings in the area, which are mostly two floors tall. The additional documents made it clear that the building will actually provide a substantial amount of public space, and be clearly separated from other sites, as well as being further from the road than it previously appeared.Sean Woulfe, the university’s director of estates, said: “The design reflects the university’s intention to engage with the public and open up learning opportunities for everyone,” he said.“The colonnade draws people in, and the lively landscaped terraces showcase the university’s learning activities to everyone passing by, on this key gateway to the town centre.”The new building will be built on the site of an existing temporary structure and a carpark by Willmott Dixon, whose £20 million bid beat rivals Osborne and Kier during the tendering process. Once completed, it will be home to a library, complete with special collections and archives, as well as a 300-seat lecture theatre, a resource centre rehearsal and performance spaces, and a cafe. The total floor space will be 120,000 sq ft.Shelley McNamara, director at Grafton Architects, said: “There is clearly a collective vision at Kingston University for a refreshingly open and innovative learning environment as well as for how the architecture of the new building will house and represent this vision.” 

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