The West Slope residential development for University of Sussex is part of the continuing evolution of the campus to improve the University’s facilities, ensure the best possible student experience and continue the architectural legacy of Sir Basil Spence.
Set in the South Downs National Park, the landscape of the campus was described by Spence as growing "of the soil of Sussex to become a natural part of this beautiful site."
The scheme retains the character of the existing parkland setting and the student clusters and townhouses propose an integrated architectural and landscape design. It is respectful of the existing mature trees and creates garden terraces around these trees for the smaller neighbourhood clusters of residences to use, occupy, and claim as part of their identity.
It provides three typologies of student rooms together with ground-level student amenities comprising student hubs, launderettes, a supermarket, health and wellbeing centre and a cafe. A student pavilion library sits at the heart.
The proposals were granted planning approval by a unanimous committee in May 2020.
Spence worked collaboratively with landscape architect Dame Sylvia Crow on the original campus, which focussed on capturing the natural landscape of the South Downs chalk valley. Today, we are working with Grant Associates .to maintain the features of the unique landscape setting of the campus.
The new spaces in the valley and on the slopes are arranged in response to new student life against the backdrop of the South Downs National Park. Our designs have been developed and positioned to minimise excavation, retain as many trees as possible and respond to the contours of the site.
In the valley, the North Court forms a civic parkland which continues the original green thread of ancient woodland that weaves its way through the bottom of the valley. The residential buildings form and animate a new public space, and at ground floor level include the residential reception and space for a replacement Health and Wellbeing Centre, as well as amenities to include a supermarket and Pavilion Library.
The West Slope clusters, which make up roughly three-quarters of the accommodation, touch the ground lightly. Four storeys in height, with varying parapet heights responding to the topography, they contain two cluster flats per floor of seven and eight bedrooms with associated kitchen, dining and living space arranged around a single stair and lift which again acts as a space for social interaction. These rooms will have wonderful views of the trees and the surrounding landscape.
At the centre, a special West Slope cluster contains a student hub at ground level and is one storey higher to identify its significance.
The townhouse terraces sit on the contours running along the site. Their living spaces at ground level are visually open to encourage interaction with other groups of students and help to form communities.
A group of 20 family units located away from the more socially active student rooms with their own external and internal play areas.