Winter Gardens

Our Client

UCW (University Centre Weston) is the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) Gold higher education provider in North Somerset and is among the best places to study at university level in the UK.

They deliver a choice of degree-level courses in partnership with nearby universities across three campuses in Weston-super-Mare.

As part of the Weston College Group, UCW is ambitious and aspirational and expects their buildings to achieve the highest standards.

Winter Gardens
Winter Gardens

The Brief

Having gained University Centre status, the core objective of this project was to provide a landmark home for higher education courses.

To support the college’s ambitions and to encourage development and investment in Weston-super-Mare the Winter Gardens Pavilion, previously owned by North Somerset Council, was sold to Weston College. This building, originally constructed in 1927 during the heyday of the seaside town, had fallen into disrepair but was locally listed and cherished by the local community. Our brief evolved into providing a state-of-the-art environment for further and higher education by adapting and restoring the Winter Gardens Pavilion.

The solution

In 2015 the Winter Gardens Pavilion consisted of two distinct parts: the original 1920s neo-Georgian structure facing the seafront and low quality 1970s and 1980s additions which extended the building towards the town square. The original pavilion contained a capacious domed ballroom with colonnaded wings; this part of the building was to be set aside for conferencing, events, and community access. The later additions were to be extended and adapted to accommodate the new teaching and learning spaces.

The two parts of the project presented vastly different challenges. The original pavilion had to incorporate a conference facility with all the necessary ancillary space, including a commercial kitchen capable of serving five hundred covers. In addition, the work had to preserve the original historic fabric of the locally listed structure.

Winter Gardens
Winter Gardens

The university was crafted within the post war extensions. This required demolition of the poorest quality additions and the erection of a new wing overlooking the Town square. This element provided a new entrance, it allowed us to create a façade to reflect the ambitions and aspirations of the college and provide a focal point and sense of place for the new institution.

An open plan collaborative learning space, essential for the delivery of degree-level courses, was fashioned within a former performance space. This was made possible by the introduction of mezzanines and light wells, with seminar spaces positioned on the perimeter.

In total the project delivered a highly specified building with a floor area of 5,500m² for total capital spend of £13M. This represents a significant saving over the cost of a new build facility without any loss of functionality.

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