Home from home

Interior hues are subtly emitted through the transparent walls of this cosy student hub

by Amy 31 October 2011
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    Coventry University Hub is an innovative new approach to the University library and Student Union. Traditionally, there has been a division between bar provision for students and student support and the library that has only catered for a minority of students.

    The Hub brings together the complete range of student social, support and informal learning facilities under one roof. By placing the Student Union at the centre of this key building, the University has given students the opportunity to take responsibility for managing the space where they learn.

    The site lies at the heart of the University campus and the city centre - and at the junction of the historic quarter of the city and the post-war re-development. Sir Basil Spence's Coventry Cathedral (Grade I Listed) is immediately to the west of the Hub across University Square. The new building is L-shaped, reinstating and strengthening pedestrian patterns across the Campus, and the main East-West route has been widened to focus on a long view of the cathedral spire.

    The Hub is conceived as a 'home from home' at the heart of the campus, providing a one-stop-shop for students responding to key needs: a place to visit during the day; a place for safe entertainment; a place to foster health and wellbeing; and a place to access employment.

    The Informal Learning space is a high-tech, flexible environment, open 24/7 with a capacity for more than 1,000 students at any one time - essentially a fusion of a University library and their living room, responding to a growing trend of students staying at home and commuting to University for the day.

    It facilitates ad-hoc tutorials, peer-to-peer learning and the breaking down of barriers between students and staff. The crystalline glass façades are entirely composed of black and white, creating a range of tone, depth of field and pattern using banding, fritting and rhythms running around the whole façade.

    The entrances are dramatically marked in yellow/orange colours that are used in the glazing around the main doors, the columns that lead to these entrances and the screens that separate the courtyard. All the colour is focused on the inside of the building, but highly visible through the complex transparent elevations. In the evening, the building reveals the jewel-like interior attracting visitors inside to the warmth, shelter and community.

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