Kingston University gets go ahead for Grafton’s first UK building

Planning approval has been given for Grafton Architects’ first project in the United Kingdom, for Kingston University. The Royal Borough of Kingston’s Development Control Committee voted unanimously in favour of the landmark scheme following strong support for the project, including backing from the local Conservation Area Advisory Committee. 

Kingston University’s Director of Estates Sean Woulfe said the building would transform the learning environment and enhance civic engagement. “Local people and heritage groups have responded very warmly to this project,” he added. “The design reflects the University’s intention to engage with the public and open up learning opportunities for everyone. 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.”

Grafton Director Shelley McNamara said that she had been struck by the commitment of the University to creating a new learning landscape. “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,” she said.

Grafton was chosen through a Royal Institute of British Architects Competition, ahead of a shortlist that included O’Donnell and Tuomey, Howarth Tompkins, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Bennetts Associates.

Once completed, the proposals will provide three new public landscaped areas as well as 9,027 sq ms of learning space including; a modern learning resources centre over several floors, a 300-seat multi-media auditorium, rehearsal and performance space for the University’s popular dance courses and a café and other informal learning spaces.

WAN’s Business Information project lead team published this project in August 2014, please see the brief here. For live competitions contact us on


Nick Myall

News Editor

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