Community & Wellbeing

Time: 11:00 - 12:00

Date: Week 2: 26-30 April


Designing schools for cohesive communities: Dr Sharon Wright, the-learning-crowd & Helen Taylor, Scott Brownrigg

The current pandemic has changed how we see our schools.  As well as educating our young people, over the last year they have been recognised as community hubs providing essential support to families.  Many have adopted new ways of working that they want to embed in their practice going forward.  This presentation will discuss how we can better design for current needs and new priorities including a greater emphasis on wellbeing and sustainability, and how education buildings can provide facilities that are truly inclusive and contribute to healthy and cohesive communities.

Remaking a Home: Paul Ring, Northumbria University Architecture and Built Environment & Karen Nugent, Page\Park Architects

Northumbria University recently completed a new home for their Architecture and Built Environment Department within the listed Sutherland building at the gateway to campus. The project brings the department together from dispersed locations into a collaborative and collegiate new facility. New open plan studios connect and extend the existing building with a new internal street that helps foster a sense of community. The project aims were to increase the amount of studio space for students, wrap a bespoke building around their working practice needs within a flexible and responsive space, unify the department in a single location and improve the student experience and wellbeing through the environments they occupy.

Following a year occupying this new home and a year out of it, our presentation will:

  • Discuss the role of studio as a student-centred learning environment
  • Give the users’ viewpoint on the capital development project process: from developing the brief, evaluating the competition, user engagement through design development and delivery, handover and occupation.
  • Give the architect’s view of meeting the brief, developing the design and delivering the project.
  • Consider how the relocation has impacted on the student experience of studying in the department.
  • Highlight the impact on teaching methods of being a consolidated department.
  • Identify the benefits of adapting and reusing existing buildings rather than building new.
  • Summarise lessons learned for others about to embark on a similar project.

Learning points for the presentation:

  • The role of studio as a student-centred learning environment, encouraging students to share ideas, experiment and take risks.
  • The benefits of maintaining user group engagement through the briefing, design and delivery phases of a capital project.
  • How a small extension or alteration can release hidden capacity and make heritage buildings work harder in the university estate.
  • How interconnected spaces can blur boundaries, allow the students to occupy, interact with and own the building, broaden their peer learning, increase their wellbeing and sense of community and gain a greater appreciation of the department as a whole.



  • Paul Ring Associate Professor Architecture - Head of Subject, Northumbria University Architecture and Built Environment
  • Karen Nugent Design Director Education - Page\Park
  • Helen Taylor FRIBA Director of Practice - Scott Brownrigg
  • Dr Sharon Wright Senior Associate - the-learning-crowd

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