University of Winchester flagship West Downs Centre nominated for Solent Quality Place Awards

6 Sep 2022

The West Downs Centre, the University of Winchester's flagship learning and teaching building, is one of just seven schemes nominated for the 'People's Choice Award' of this year's prestigious Solent Quality Place Awards.

Voting is now open for the public to cast their votes for their favourite site selected by judges of the Solent Quality Place Awards - a placemaking award, which has been recognising beautiful and thoughtfully designed developments across the Solent region since 2010.

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 were particularly impressed by the way in which the new scheme responds to the wider context of the city of Winchester and its historic and contemporary public buildings, both in the choice of materials and detailed design. The courtyard water garden provides a sanctuary to the busy Romsey Road, offering light and visual interest to the reception area, library and café whilst also allowing light and air to flow naturally into the surrounding ground floor internal spaces.

Gavin Hunter, Chief Operating Officer, University of Winchester, said: "It is a real honour to have been selected out of around 20 schemes across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Solent region for this placemaking award.

"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. The building is also a landmark on the way into the city which many people pass in their cars or on foot every day. We hope that all those people who enjoy the building will take time to vote. Voting is open until 26 September and we appreciate anyone supporting us."

It's the sixth edition of the Solent Quality Place Awards run by Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH), which seeks to highlight placemaking excellence in developments that contribute to improving the economic, social, cultural and environmental life of those who live, work, learn and relax within the Solent region.

Cllr Sean Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire added: "Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Solent area are wonderful places to live, and this category of the Solent Quality Award is all about letting the people who live and work in these places and spaces choose the best design and place which most inspires them. Good luck to all our worthy finalists."

Voting is open until 26 September online at this link: with the winner set to be announced in October.

Background about the Solent Quality Place Awards

The first Solent Quality Place Awards, formerly known as Solent Design Awards, were held in 2010, coinciding with the signing of the Quality Places Charter. In 2019 the Solent Design Awards were refreshed and rebranded as Solent Quality Place Awards to better reflect the focus on quality of place rather than the design of an individual building. Winners in 2019 included the West Quay South complex in Southampton and the Hot Walls area in Portsmouth. In 2022 the awards will be run for the 6th time.

The Partnership for South Hampshire (PFSH) was formed in 2003 as Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) and renamed in 2019 to better reflect the diverse nature of its members. It's a partnership of twelve local authorities around the Solent that aim to improve the environmental, cultural and economic performance of the South Hampshire area. Its focus is on partnership working beyond local authority boundaries to deliver housing, infrastructure, facilities and services that encourage growth and regeneration across the region.

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