Landscape Architects Bring Value To University Campus

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A team of landscape architects has demonstrated how innovatively designed public realms within a university campus can help to attract new students.

Grontmij's landscape architects collaborated with Farrell & Clark, Carey Jones and DLA Architects and principal contractors BAM and Morgan Ashurst to deliver part of a £350 million development programme to enhance the University of Leeds city campus and the student experience. Multidisciplinary teams transformed an urban city site into a well considered green environment that invites students and staff to linger and interact.

Danny Crump, senior associate from Grontmij, explains: "The recent  changes within Higher Education has meant that universities need to add value to their campus to continue to attract students. Grontmij has worked on several university projects including University of Newcastle, Leeds Metropolitan University and University of Liverpool so we understand the requirements of a campus site."

The campus development will form a continuation and extension of Leeds City Centre's public realm and all enhancements will ensure the University continues to make a valuable contribution to the local community and economy.

The projects form part of the university's strategic development framework.  Grontmij undertook a detailed analysis of the Leeds University masterplan to demonstrate how future development and enhancement of the existing campus, spaces and routes will improve pedestrian legibility and movement both within the campus but also the wider context of Leeds City Centre.

Danny Crump continues: "Leeds University is currently one of the most popular with students applying for undergraduate courses and it is their ambition to be ranked in the top 50 universities in the world by 2015. By implementing improvement schemes throughout the Leeds City Campus, the University's key decision makers are creating an environment for staff and students to enjoy.

 "By using SWOT analysis the team identified the issues that needed attention from the City Campus site. We worked closely with Leeds University and the contractors to create a number of public spaces that meet the needs of both the client and all stakeholders involved.

The multi-disciplinary team held several public consultation meetings throughout the design and planning process. Each of the key stakeholders' opinions was taken into consideration, including: heads of department, neighbours, the estates department of Leeds University and local authority members.

Danny Crump explains: "The team was keen to listen to the opinions of all university staff and Leeds City Council, but it was vital to listen and collaborate with the students throughout the design process.

"The student experience is one of the main reasons for the new developments so, in the best interest of the project, Grontmij was keen to understand their needs. The team held an informal public consultation with the Student Union to ensure that they were happy with the proposed design."

One of the main issues to arise from the consultation meetings was student safety out-of-hours. Each project has been arranged to promote fluid movement for both students and cyclists whilst complying with all DDA guidelines. Lighting was designed to ensure that all spaces were overlooked and any shadowed areas of the campus were eradicated.

Danny Crump continues: "Grontmij is passionate about the City Campus scheme and we are dedicated to creating a high quality, coherent and consistent public realm for future students, employees and the wider Leeds community.

"It was vital to design a unique environment that was not only an enjoyable place to study but recognised the neighbouring city, on site historical fabric and future aspirations for development."

The masterplan involves a series of redevelopment projects throughout the 40 hectare site. Initial work at the University started in 2005 with the latest projects expected to be completed by early 2011.

As lead designers of the most recent £1.4 million University Square project, Grontmij worked alongside Lumsden and Carroll Construction. The multidisciplinary team has transformed the public open space into an area of social interaction and enjoyment for the staff and students.

Steve Gilley from the University of Leeds comments "The public open space within the campus had become tired and as a result of the large investment in new buildings it was realised how important it was to revitalise our landscape to create connecting spaces and to upgrade and invest in our public realm.

Grontmij brought a wealth of experience in urban landscape and university projects and their strong team ethos and ability to work with a large number of stakeholders was essential.

"The recent development of University Square has been the most transformative project to date, I'm pleased that it is nearing completion and to see first-hand the positive impact it will have on students, staff and the local community."




Notes to Editors:

Grontmij, formerly Whitelaw Turkington, is one of the Europe's leading firms of landscape architects and urban designers, creating public realm environments which are a synthesis of art, environment and engineering and attracting the most talented people who are passionate about place making and care about people. 

 The group has more than 100 landscape architects and urban designers working across the international network of offices, delivering successful projects for all our clients. The team specialises in award-winning landscape master planning, environmental impact assessment and scheme design for major projects in commercial and residential development, education, healthcare and leisure. Community engagement and multi-disciplinary collaboration are at the heart of the practice.

Grontmij is a leading sustainable design, engineering and management consultancy active in the growth markets of water, energy, transportation and sustainable planning and design. At the core of our business is the principle of sustainability by design that is a leading value proposition for our customers. Grontmij is the fourth largest engineering consultancy in Europe with almost 300 offices across the region and a further 50 offices globally. We have nearly 11,000 professionals around the world.