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Restaurant & Bar Design Show

Durham University postgraduate students now have access to bespoke accommodation following a 14 month construction project.

The former Prescription Pricing Agency (PPA) building was demolished to make way for a top of the range studio scheme.

The building is unusual as it contains 112 studio rooms; which comprise of a double bed, an en-suite bathroom, a small kitchen and a study area. Often studios can be found in amongst other cluster flats. This building contains only studios as it was built to cater for the growing population of overseas and postgraduate students at Durham University.

Previously Durham University have had a lack of accommodation or overseas and postgraduate students. Before the erection of this accommodation students had to rent non-student properties in the area.

The £8.4 million project contains an all electric heating scheme which means its energy consumption is controlled very well. The system calculates the amount of heat required from the occupancy levels; so the electric heating only heats spaces that are occupied.

The system also has a push button control allowing tenants to warm their room up to a certain temperature at the push of a button. After two hours the temperature drops automatically but can be rebooted. After another two hours have elapsed the heating switches off completely.

The system received a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of Very Good.

Tim Bailey, partner at Xsite Architecture the project architects, said the brief from Durham University and the City Council for the building was to provide high end, bespoke accommodation in the middle of the city, for postgraduate students.

Tim added:

“Our involvement in the development stemmed from an ongoing relationship with developer Connislow. They identified the former PPA building as a potential site to erect student accommodation for Durham University.

“The site is more suited to student accommodation as it offers lovely views of the university’s sports field and is situated in a pleasant location. “The building is also close to one of the university’s rowing clubs and the city’s cathedral can be seen from the top floor.

“As an office building the site was outdated and well past its sell by date in times of modern office standards.”

Xsite began working on the design plans for the building in late 2010 and construction began in June 2012 with BAM Construction acting as the main contractor. The project was completed in August 2013 ready for the students arriving at the end of September. The building is now rented out to postgraduate and overseas students.

There are three different sized studios within the building. The smallest studio spans 18 square metres, the medium sized studio covers 23 square metres and the largest room spans 26 square metres. The building stretches up four storeys and a communal lounge area is situated in the buildings ground floor, adjacent to the outdoor area.

The external landscaped area wraps around the building’s courtyard and contains parking spaces for residents, as well as a small patio area.

The new building is comprised from a masonry scheme and so is made up of brick and block work. The building has timber cladding and a single ply membrane roof. The windows and doors are aluminium and glass screens have been placed over the building’s entrance to provide a splash of colour.

Tom Bailey from Xsite Architecture worked alongside Durham City Council and Durham University throughout the project. He said:

“We worked hard to make sure the building was something that Durham could point at and be proud of. The planning process, which involved Durham County Council Planning Department, ensured that the building contributed to the built environment in Durham. People have acknowledged it is a lovely building which we are proud of.

“Another achievement for us is that it is the first privately rented student accommodation scheme in Durham. It was completely full with tenants by the time it opened in October for the university’s first term. It has been extremely popular with student and the target market.”

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