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University of Winchester West Downs Centre wins prestigious WAN Gold Award

26 November 2021

The University of Winchester's West Downs Centre, for which Ridge has been providing multidisciplinary services since the project’s inception, has won a prestigious Gold Award in the “Education” category at the 2021 WAN Awards.

The global WAN (World Architecture News) Awards celebrate excellence in architecture. Now in its 13th year, the awards recognise the outstanding works of innovative, visionary and imaginative design teams worldwide.

Located on a prominent site on one of the main routes into Winchester, the flagship West Downs Centre, which opened in September 2021, was commissioned as a cultural hub for the university. The £50m, state-of-the-art building, designed by Design Engine Architects, includes a 250-seat auditorium, a library, social learning areas, teaching spaces, an art gallery, a café, a zero-waste shop and a food hall.

Acting as M&E design guardians, BREEAM Assessors and Advisory Professionals, Ridge has worked closely with the university to ensure that the scheme delivered is in line with their high aspirations. The role has included detailed consultation with various university departments, such as the Estates, IT, Library, Seminar and Catering teams, to ensure that their specific requirements are picked up within the detailed design of the building.

Building services solutions included a combined heat and power plant (with the ability to connect to other buildings in the future), heat recovery systems, a photovoltaic array, rainwater harvesting, an integrated building management system, audiovisual systems and site wide Wi-Fi.

The university takes sustainability very seriously; it was essential that the project team engaged with the BREEAM requirements of the project early on to meet the university’s ambitions. The Ridge Sustainability team ran workshops with the project team to identify materials and waste reduction opportunities from the outset, and to consider some of the more challenging BREEAM issues which, if tackled at the right time, can add real value to a scheme.

Due to this early engagement, and the ongoing commitment of the project team, the building is on track to achieve BREEAM “Excellent” certification.

As part of the university’s commitment to health and wellbeing on campus, the building is also targeting a WELL Building Standard score of Platinum. Ridge has been appointed to undertake this review and is working with the university and other stakeholders with the aim of this being the first WELL-certified university building in the UK.

The jury for this category praised the West Downs Centre as being “designed with great care for the human experience… combining beauty and sustainability”. The project previously won the Constructing Excellence “Client of the Year Award” (with Ridge having nominated the university for the teamwork on this project).

Congratulations on this well-deserved award to Design Engine Architects, the University of Winchester and all members of the project team who worked with Ridge on this innovative project!