Staffordshire University Student Village Stoke-on-Trent, UK


Willmott Dixon & Hochtief for Staffordshire University




Targeted Net Zero Carbon


Student Living & Community

Staffordshire University Student Village (SUSV) presents an exciting opportunity to create a new student community that blends contemporary sustainable architecture with nature in a unique natural setting.

The shared design team vision for the project imagines a new student village in the woodland. A development that works sensitively with the natural features of the site, where buildings form terraces following the natural sloped topography and the existing varied landscape is enhanced and integrated. This approach creates a holistic development with a strong character and identity, fostering a sense of place and community.

The buildings are a direct response to the site and context. Their form, arrangement and materiality takes inspiration from their setting. They have been designed to provide safe, secure and inclusive accommodation, for students a ‘home from home’.


Architectural Approach

Touch the Earth Lightly

Sustainability is at the heart of these proposals informing basic principles of orientation and form factor through to high performance envelopes and smart efficient MEP systems. Fundamentally the masterplan has been designed to work with the site, avoiding any existing material being removed during construction by sculpting the existing slope into a series of terraces.

Universal Accessibility

The site topography presents a number of challenges in terms of access. Through strategic location of the Village Hub and considered routes within the landscape the proposals deliver universal accessibility with fair access for all. The siting of the Hub also future proofs the remainder of the site allowing future development to connect in the same way.


The development has been designed to meet the University’s desired outcomes with minimal impact on their balance sheet. The proposals seek to provide long term value through a well managed low maintenance estate that will enhance the attractiveness and reputation of the University. A variety of accommodation is proposed at alternative price points providing choice for students from a wide range of backgrounds.


Concept Layout


Levels Sketch


SUSV has been designed to integrate with the main campus. The Village Hub is located to align directly with the Catalyst building with a clear visual connection between the two. The boardwalk and bridge are located on this axis which will act as a central ‘spine’ connecting the north and south sides and linking current and future buildings and spaces to the east and the west.

Village Hub

The 24/7 Village Heart

The Village Hub acts as the focus for the SUSV providing welcoming flexible accommodation to work, rest and play. Planned over four levels the building steps in section to follow the site topography. There are entry points at each level and universal access to every part of the site is facilitated by the lifts and stairs provided in the building.

Sense of Arrival

The Village Hub and associated square are the first arrival point when entering the Village from the campus. The building has been positioned with a clear visual link to the Catalyst building and physical connection is provided via the new bridge and boardwalk across the River Trent and valley wetlands.


Sustainable Structure

The Village Hub outwardly expresses its sustainability credentials. An efficient timber structure of glue-lam beams and columns supports cross laminated timber floors. The use of concrete is minimised to the stepping ground floor and retaining walls. The building is wrapped in a high performance pre-fabricated glazed facade that incorporates a sophisticated copper interlayer that reflects unwanted sunlight.


Cluster Blocks

Arrangement & Layout

There are four cluster blocks located on the stepping site terraces alongside each Village Lane. They are arranged over four levels with two entry points that define the three wings. The buildings facet at the entry points to gently follow the curvature of the site. Each building sits a storey higher than the one below and is staggered in plan to maximise views towards the Campus.


The buildings have a grounded base of Staffordshire red brick and upper levels of lightweight standing seam cladding. The upper storey windows are connected by intermediate spandrel panels reinforcing a vertical proportion to the openings. The standing seam metal cladding also runs vertically with the seams bringing texture and rhythm to the facades and combining with the vertical windows to reference the verticality of the surrounding mature landscape.


Structure & MEP

The building structures incorporate a light gauge steel frame that minimises material use and floor plans stack vertically for efficient structural arrangement and services reticulation. Flat roofs are accessible for maintenance and the areas are put to good use with extensive roof mounted photovoltaics.



Arrangement & Layout

There are two Townhouse blocks located on the stepping site terraces alongside each Village Lane. Each block is arranged as a series of 6 terraced houses over four levels. The houses are mirrored and paired in plan, each having their own ‘front door’ accessed off the Village Lane.


The blocks have a lightweight standing seam upper storey and pitched roof above a 3 storey base of Staffordshire blue brick. The cladding matches that proposed for the Cluster Blocks bringing some consistency to the Village materiality. In contrast to the Cluster Blocks the Townhouses use a matching copper shade to windows and metalwork detailing. The pitched roofs evoke simple ‘house’ forms and a sense of home whilst bringing variety to the stepping skyline.


Structure & MEP

As with the Cluster Blocks the building structures incorporate a light gauge steel frame that minimises material use and floor plans stack vertically for efficient structural arrangement and services reticulation. The pitched roofs include extensive roof mounted photovoltaics.


Clarice Cliff Court

Retained & Renewed

The existing student accommodation at Clarice Cliff Court will be fully re-furbished to bring it up to contemporary standards and student expectations. New mechanical systems, full re-decoration, new room joinery and new bathrooms are proposed to all bedrooms. The exterior facades will be re-clad to re-fresh the dated buff and red brickwork along with re-painting the existing windows. Extensive new landscape to the courtyard will transform the outlook from these rooms and create desirable amenity space for the students.


Re-furbishment works will be phased and undertaken over the summer recess to maintain operation over the course of the construction period.

The aspiration is to achieve Net Zero Carbon in Operation (NZCiO) across the proposed development site.

greater site area weighted average carbon emission reduction is predicted, than required by the emerging local planning policy target.
SUSV-Body-Image 06 – 1340

In partnership with Ramboll, the energy assessment demonstrates a comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions using the following energy reduction hierarchy;

  1. Minimise building energy demands using passive measures
  2. Conserve, recoup and maximise efficiency of delivered energy
  3. Supply energy from Low Carbon energy sources
  4. Maximise Renewable Energy generation on-site


Reduction in the primary energy demand and carbon emissions for the refurbished Clarice Cliff Court building.


Reduction in carbon emissions over Part L notional building targets for the new Hub building.


Reduction in primary energy demands for the new Hub building.


Reduction in primary energy demands for the new student residential accommodation.


Reduction carbon emissions over Part L notional building targets for the new student residential accommodation.


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