How a Stunning Plaza Can Make College Students Realize Their Full Potential
Article by Nour Adel – Total reading time 3 minutes
Jubilee Plaza, by Ubu Design, in University of Southampton
“Space to walk is also space to think, and I think that’s one thing landscapes give us: places to think longer, more uninterrupted thoughts or thoughts to a rhythm other than the staccato of navigating the city.”― Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics
Who would not love a spacious outdoor plaza at their college, where they have a space for relaxing, socializing, and brainstorming? You guessed it; Nobody. The learning process has been changing throughout the years and students need spaces where they can sit back, relax, and unleash their creativity without being confined in a lecture hall.
Ubu Design has been commissioned to undertake the design of a new piazza at its Highfield Campus situated on the leafy outskirts of Southampton City Centre. Right in front of the award-winning Life Sciences building, the piazza, known as Jubilee Plaza, occupies the former site of a building known as the George Moore building.
The main purpose of the plaza is to improve pedestrian access to the area, creating an attractive route between the Life Sciences Building and Library Square while offering a series of awesome spaces for users to gather, sit, and relax.
One of the functions of landscape is to correspond to, nurture, and provoke exploration of the landscape of the imagination. These pedestrian walkways and seating areas not only serve as spaces for contemplation and relaxation but they might also be performing their role as an extracurricular educative space.
In order for students nowadays to be more productive and enthusiastic, they need to go beyond the walls of the lecture halls and have an open space to kick back and unwind.
This very simple yet powerful plaza in University of Southampton offers a wide platform for students and teachers to break their boring daily routine of running through hallways between lectures, and just take a break. The sense of spaciousness in Jubilee plaza is what makes it a perfect, simple space for users, especially students, to generate ideas.
Whether you are looking for a place to conduct your group meetings and generate your ideas or for a place to go by yourself to grab some fresh air and do some solo brainstorming, the Jubilee plaza is your place to go.
From my personal experience in different universities, I heartily believe that spaces like these are indeed what make an institution such as the University of Southampton known as a global centre for excellence in research and education, and contribute to making it ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide.
Creating an Interconnected Community:
The challenging site occupies a pivotal location in the hub of university buildings and open space forming the Highfield Campus. The materials and textures of the hardscape design in the plaza have been chosen very carefully in order to blend in with the adjacent buildings and make it visually compatible.
The bricks on the buildings and the tiles on the floor have the same colors and textures; as if the walkways reflect the buildings and complement them rather than being contradictive or opposing. Accordingly, the piazza creates a seamless linkage to the street and other faculty buildings.
A locally cohesive plant palette and restrained material choice complement the contemporary materials and historic palette of the adjoining buildings, helping to visually connect the sequence of spaces and create a harmonious flow.
The designers intentionally used only a narrow range of specific material choices to complement the contemporary materials of the LSB and the more historic palette of Library Square. A locally friendly plant palette integrates and strengthens visual connectivity between the new developments.
The Jubilee plaza project represents a landscape design that is not only considerate of the user’s needs, but also successfully creates an attractive unified space by linking the buildings in the university together.
Can these sorts of simple concepts be the next approach to landscape design in academic institutions?
Full Project Credits For Jubilee Plaza:
Project Name: Jubilee Plaza, University of Southampton
Architects: Ubu Design
Client: University of Southampton
Consultants: NBBJ, Plincke, Arup, AKT, EC Harris (undertaken while working for Plincke)
Awards: RIBA 2011 regional award winner
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Article by Nour Adel
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