The practice is architect, lead consultant and landscape architect for the first phase of our masterplan for the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside Campus. Refurbished buildings and a landscaping scheme will create a 21st-century university campus within the National Park. A new Library in a converted barn structure is now the social heart of the campus. The existing timber roof structure has been exposed, greatly increasing the building’s overall volume, while redesigned windows maximise natural light, creating an attractive working environment. A new extension contains a timber-clad café with generous glazing providing views out over the courtyard and campus beyond.
Following John McAslan + Partners’ successful completion of the Masterplan for the Ambleside Campus of the University of Cumbria the practice was appointed as architect, lead consultant, and landscape architect for Phase One of the masterplan.
The overarching aim of the Phase One works is to refurbish and reconfigure key buildings, undertake critical repairs, and – as part of a substantial landscaping scheme - improve linkages and create new external spaces. The reanimated university campus will support a range of faculties including Business Enterprise and Development, Outdoor Studies, Environmental Sciences and the National School of Forestry, creating a 21st-century university campus within the National Park.
At the centre of the Phase One proposals, both geographically and functionally, is the creation of the new LiSS (Library and Student Services) Building, now the social heart of the campus. A traditional Cumbrian ‘Bank Barn’ constructed in 1929, the building was used as an assembly hall and gym for Charlotte Mason’s School for Governesses, and more recently as a bar and student union, with classrooms on the upper floor. The reconfiguration, a contemporary interpretation of Cumbrian vernacular, respects the original stone fabric of the building, while enhancing the character and quality of the space. The existing timber roof structure has been exposed, greatly increasing the building’s overall volume. In addition, new stone floors have been installed and windows redesigned to maximise natural light, creating an attractive working environment and improve energy use.
A new mono-pitch addition, containing a café, is clad in stained black timber, creating a striking contrast with the grey stone of the existing building. Generous glazing provides views out onto the adjacent courtyard space, one of the new landscape spaces created as part of the campus redevelopment, and beyond over the mature landscape of the campus.
Phase One of the masterplan has also delivered significantly improved access and services infrastructure across the campus, with all works sequenced to ensure the University’s continuity of service. Our scheme delivers inclusive design across the campus, addressing key issues such as disability access for 75% of all teaching accommodation, the provision of induction loop systems, fully lit pedestrian routes across the campus, disabled parking provision, level access into and within all buildings where possible, appropriate access ramps, accessible toilets, platform lifts, accessible computer terminals, automatic doors and improved wayfinding, creating a more inclusive environment for the University and wider community, now and in the future.
This project also brings significant social and economical benefits to Ambleside town. Students and a thriving University in Ambleside will help boost the local economy and lower the average age of the local population. The University’s revitalised buildings will be used to house community events and lectures out of hours, enhancing the opportunities for adult learning in the community.
Despite the constraints of working within the National Park, the practice achieved Planning and Conservation Area consent for all Phase One works. Close collaboration with the LDNPA was critical to securing successful outcomes for all applications.