The Stevenage Centre is a major new-build FE facility. Heralded by the LSC as a ‘quality benchmark for future colleges’, it is a state-of-the-art, secure, stimulating and sociable building designed for learner and community use on a 24/7 basis. On budget, it was successfully delivered to a tight programme led by decantation needs and – since opening – has boosted enrolments at the college by 27%. The brief asked for a flexible, user-focused building that would promote informal shared learning with the ability to adapt to future trends.
To encourage learners back into education, the college wanted a striking, landmark design. The building is located on a tight, corner site largely constrained by planning requirements in relation to the disposal of land. It is laid out as two wings of flexible teaching accommodation organised around a central atrium and three storey learning resource centre. The atrium is a vibrant and dynamic space, expressed on the outside by a sinuous entrance facade of render, glazing and sustainably sourced cedar. Inside, it houses several learner support functions, including a careers advice point, drop-in IT learning shop and internet cafe. The reception is located beneath a signature pod housing a key skills development centre.