NOVA Nottingham, UK


Fusion Residential




Student Living

Nova is high-end purpose building student accommodation (PBSA) within a key conservation and regeneration area of Nottingham city centre.

Purpose-built student accommodation isn’t just about designing buildings, it’s about designing communities.

Nova offers 434 bed spaces across a range of single and shared apartments and studios. In addition, it contains communal facilities as well as outdoor and indoor amenity spaces which includes group study areas, a games room, gym, a library and bar/cafe area.


As well as being in the Canning Circus Conservation Area of the city, the site contained a number of challenging features including the locally listed Experian Bank building as well as having a two-storey difference in level on opposite sides of the site. This created challenges for access and internal movements within the building.

With Nova, the design challenge was to facilitate the right sense of community because of the existing buildings.


Study is vital, but social and enrichment experiences are key to their success and accommodation has a crucial role to play in this journey.

The development had a mix of styles – from the architecturally significant 1930s art deco main building to 1970s office towers. We retained and enhanced the art deco exterior of the Experian Bank building and added a fully glazed top level which provides spectacular views across Nottingham.

The existing building contains the majority of the social space and is used as an exclusive resident only club by the occupants. A stonewall dating back to 1852 also brings an additional feature to the site retained within the amenity space.


During discussions with the planners at Nottingham it was clear that the site demanded a design that considered a simple yet striking choice of materials. The size of the building and gradients on both sides of the site meant that materials needed to respond to an ever-changing ground level. The scale and colour of the site’s existing buildings made the streets appear dark and over shadowed, yet our design approach was to introduce a building that contributed in a positive way to the conservation area.

Buildings nearby have a mixture of brickwork, panelling and cladding in a variety of colours, this creates a visually confusing environment, our approach was to present a simple building using high quality materials.

Copper was chosen because of its quality as well as its ability to be used in a fluid way across a façade.

The hand work appearance, coupled with the natural properties of the material means that every panel is different and reflects light in a non-uniform way creating a warm and textural façade. The copper helps the building façade to step with the site gradients in an effortless way.

Pre-weathered Tecu was selected to give the façade stability and certainty as opposed to using raw copper that would age naturally, the copper was also used to articulate the elevation by creating expressed window surrounds.

Learnings demonstrate the proportion of the windows not only impact rhythm to the façade but taller, thinner window design allows for greater light penetration within apartments whilst larger picture windows are best utilised in living spaces. Full height windows have been used to give the building a vertical emphasis and bring natural light deep into the building.


We made this multi-structure layout work hard with a standalone social building that differentiates Nova from other PBSA offerings in the area.


This together with the homey reception and welcoming interiors has created a community Nottingham students want to be part of.


Nova has been at maximum occupancy since its launch.

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