RIBA South Award 2022 for University of Winchester's landmark West Downs Centre

10 May 2022
Architect's impression looking out of the building into the courtyard garden with a pond and green trees and planting

The University of Winchester's West Downs Centre has won a prestigious RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) South Award 2022.

A RIBA Regional Award is given to a UK building for its regional importance as a piece of architecture. It is the latest in a string of awards for the building, including a World Architecture News WAN Gold Award 2021, a national Civic Trust Award 2022, and a Landscape Institute Award 2021 for the courtyard garden and landscaping. The West Downs Centre has also been shortlisted for an Architects' Journal AJ Award 2022.

The £50m state-of-the-art building was designed by award-winning architectural practice Design Engine Architects. The contemporary design of the teaching and learning building includes a drum-shaped 250-seat auditorium, public art gallery, café, food hall, packaging-free shop, library, social learning areas and teaching spaces.

Sustainable features, including a combined heat and power plant, heat recovery systems, rainwater harvesting, a green roof and solar photovoltaic panels, are an integral part of the design. The University has registered the West Downs Centre for WELL certification, an international building standard for measuring how a building impacts on its users' health and wellbeing.

The judges said: "Even in these times of reduced occupancy levels due to COVID, students were clearly enjoying the range of spatial experiences that are revealed over time as one inhabits and moves around the building."

Gavin Hunter, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Winchester, said: "I am delighted that our flagship West Downs Centre has been honoured with a prestigious RIBA South Award, marking its regional architectural importance, alongside some of the very best architectural projects in the south of England."

"We are very proud of the building and especially that, as well as being enjoyed by students and staff for teaching and study, it is also open to members of the local community who come to visit the art gallery, café and Auditorium for events, such as conferences and public lectures."

Richard Jobson, Founding Director, Design Engine Architects, said: "Design Engine Architects have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the University of Winchester over 20 years, delivering numerous award-winning buildings during that time. We are therefore very proud to have been successful again with a RIBA Award, which only goes to reinforce the University's patronage of the arts and vision for excellence in the built environment."

Barton Farm Primary Academy - managed by the University of Winchester Academy Trust (UWINAT) - also won a RIBA South Award 2022 for its building which was designed by HCC Property Services.

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