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Learning Hub

Waterside Campus University of Northampton - Northampton, UK



Northampton, UK


22,000 m²

Year/Completion Date:


Construction Type:

New Construction

Project Team:

Architects: MCW Architects

Engineering: Arup

Furniture: Ralph+Smith

About the project

The learning hub is a shared building that blurs the boundaries between formal teaching and learning spaces, academics and professional services, and people and physical resources. Shifting from owned to shared space approach resulted in a 40% reduction in the academic estate besides reductions in operational and carbon costs. The building combines multiple functions such as Teaching spaces, specialist teaching spaces, library, student services, catering, and terrace.

Case Study Highlights

  • Replacing traditional lecture theatres with small learning spaces.
  • Transform the learning hub into a shared space not owned by a single department.
  • Rethinking the way of learning through bringing spaces for studying, working, and socialisings in one building.


Design Approach

Location on Campus or Adjacency to Other Spaces:

The Learning Hub is located in the heart of the University of Northampton’s Waterside open campus, accessible to the public.
  • Transforming the building into a shared space and replace the traditional large lecture theatres with small learning spaces.
  • Designing an integrated learning and working environment that encourages cross-disciplinary working, encourages formal and informal interactions with students, supports learning needs, and maximise utilisation and flexibility.
  • Creating a multi-function, flexible and vibrant learning environment.
  • Designing activity-based open-plan offices that are shared by whole university staff and supported by various bookable spaces for meeting, focussed work, informal short-term work, and welfare and student engagement.


©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects
©MCW Architects

Design Strategies

©Hufton+Crow Project by MCW Architects
©Hufton+Crow Project by MCW Architects
©Hufton+Crow Project by MCW Architects
©Hufton+Crow Project by MCW Architects
©Jim Stephenson Project by MCW Architects
©Hufton+Crow Project by MCW Architects
©Jim Stephenson Project by MCW Architects
©Hufton+Crow Project by MCW Architects
  • Maximising daylight and providing views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Connecting Indoor and outdoor through the open and transparent envelope.
  • Integrating landscape spaces ‘into’ the building and encouraging views within the building and outside it.
  • Maximising natural ventilation and daylighting.
  • Connecting the building to the central campus biomass boiler plant.
  • The upper floors have several terraces besides external spaces to support learning and socialising.
  • The learning environment is extended from inside to outside.

User Feedback

  • The initial ad-hoc surveys have indicated highly positive feedback from students and stuff.


  • Flexible and open-plan approach design of spaces to support different learning activities.


  • The non-departmental and flexible design approach supports adaptation to changing pedagogical and use in the future.


  • Developing digitally enhanced spaces with a robust infrastructure that supports IT solutions to facilitate learning.
  • Utilising wall-mounted displays of various sizes.


  • All content displayed is viewable on the students and stuff mobile devices.

Further Information