Student Support Centre
and New Square

Invited Design Competition


The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are delighted to announce that Hawkins\Brown have been selected as the winning team in the RIBA competition to design a new circa £60 million student support centre and civic square for the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, Lancashire.

Hawkins\Brown design concept features a biodiverse roof, LED lighting underfoot, a pavilion café bar and a large glass façade to create feelings of light, space and airiness. It has been created using the idea of 'threads' to connect the University and the city, drawing on Preston's textile heritage and its future in aerospace electronics.

Hawkins Brown will now produce a final proposal which will take into account feedback from the judging panel, UCLan staff and students as well as members of the public. The design team includes landscape architects Plincke and lighting and art designers Jason Bruges. The project is due for completion in 2019. AECOM is Project and Cost Manager and BDP is providing a wide range of multi-disciplinary engineering services for the student support centre and new square.

The variety of the seven finalists' responses to the visionary brief were an excellent challenge to assumptions and expectations. It was only after much debate that the panel eventually felt that the low, transparent, student-focussed, pavilion approach proposed by Hawkins\Brown best captured the spirit of an interactive, catalytic, gateway building sought by the University of Central Lancashire.

John Whiles, RIBA Adviser

We already have two world-class architecture practices working with us on the Masterplan in SimpsonHaugh and Partners and AHR, and now we have a third with the appointment of the team from Hawkins\Brown. The standard of submissions was very high but it was Hawkins\Brown's visually impactful, well thought-out design which won the day. Hawkins\Brown demonstrated a true understanding of what students want and of the city of Preston with the design referencing our industrial heritage. It is a firm which has extensive experience of partnering with universities and, importantly, the design will deliver on our ambition of drawing the University and city together like never before.

David Taylor, Chair of the University Board

These are exciting times for the University and the city and there is huge potential in the Hawkins\Brown scheme, which is just the start of the development process. We will continue to work very hard with our partners at Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council and the local community so that the final design reflects a shared vision that improves connectivity with the city centre.

Michael Ahern, Chief Operating Officer at UCLan

This is a landmark project which will enhance Preston's landscape, and all the shortlisted architects provided a skilled and unique response. We'd like to thank everyone who submitted feedback as the comments helped shape the judging panel's final decision, and it was Hawkins\Brown's winning design which drew the most positive attention. The public particularly liked the curved glass façade and the idea of the pavilion café bar, supporting the use of the square for all.

UCLan Vice Chancellor, Professor Mike Thomas

The boards

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Competition Contact

The competition is being administered by RIBA Competitions, to whom any enquiries relating to the general conditions of this competition should be addressed.

    0113 203 1490

Copyright © Royal Institute of British Architects 2016