Newly opened student homes display stunning attention to quality, detail and design
Two strikingly designed, high-quality student residences opened recently in Manchester and London on schedule and in time for the new University year. Developed by Alumno, each is unique in its appearance and architecture, yet makes a similarly active contribution to the community, heritage, regeneration and arts scene in their localities. Each also provides much-needed accommodation for students in both areas, freeing up housing for local residents.
The London development, Bermondsey Spa, was designed by Greenaway Architects, whose work was singled out for particular praise by Southward Council, and built by HG construction. It provides fully integrated facilities for 143 students, featuring high-quality rooms with shared amenities, including a basement cinema lounge, study room and community area. The building lies on the edge of the beautiful Bermondsey Spa Gardens, with rooms offering stunning views over London.
Exposed concrete slabs, thermally broken, give Bermondsey Spa a strong horizontal emphasis. These slabs are divided beautifully with different tones of grey brick – lighter on the fifth and sixth floors, slightly darker on the middle floors – with all details in black. The facade has a subtle concertina form, shedding a pleasing shadow across the building.
On entering the residence, students are greeted with a minimal reception area incorporating circular features reminiscent of the design of the New York subway in a monochrome palette. Meanwhile, the stairs to the basement communal area are adorned with artworks by finalists in the Photo North Student photography competition, as well as images shot by renowned Scottish photographer and curator Martin Gray.
Named after the disused public house that previously occupied the site, the nine-storey Church Inn building in Manchester was designed by Carson & Partners and built by GMI Construction Group. Located close to major arterial road The Mancunian Way, it features 62 studio apartments, along with a communal area, rooftop terrace, office and storage space for 16 bikes. External landscaping highlights the history of the site, with the reclaimed facade bricks used to create a bespoke seating area.
Architect Iain Carson has created an iconic building, instantly recognisable with its name carved into the balustrade surrounding the rooftop. Ben Kelly, the legendary Hacienda designer, has added his own touch with the wooden slats on the ground floor, where there is also a nod to the Manchester’s musical history, with an oval window reminiscent of a speaker in an old-school sound system.
This is also reflected in the artwork in the communal areas on each floor, with portraits by Chris Floyd, including Sean Ryder (Happy Mondays), New Order and Oasis. Again, the work of finalists from the Photo North competition are on display. Meanwhile, signage from the old Church Inn pub is displayed at the entrance, and there’s even a model of the original pub building in the foyer.
Attention to detail
Bespoke furniture in both developments has been provided by David Tatham of Tatham Studio. Attention to detail picks out the green at Bermondsey and the orange in Manchester on the furniture, which is followed through on the wayfinding and interior design.
“The location is great for my university placement at Kings College hospital and there are excellent connections with public transport to go anywhere in London or beyond,” current Bermondsey Spa resident Kim Gehrke told Martin Gray. “I particularly like the common room, especially the roof windows and all the plants, furniture and artwork. It feels very homely.”
Fellow resident, engineering student Unmer Sivad added: “The building looks great and functions very well. It’s all very state of the art and very environmentally sound. A big effort has been made to capture natural light, which is great in the daytime, while the artwork about the surrounding area make people feel connected to it.”
Commenting on the completed developments, Alumno Managing Director David Campbell said: “We are delighted with these latest examples of our design-led PBSA philosophy of delivering exceptional quality and functionality for our student residents. It’s all part of our mission to change the perception of student accommodation by creating unique buildings that reflect the heritage of the local areas and make a valuable contribution to the communities within which they are built.”
News coverage below :-