Breathing new life into university cityscapes

Edinburgh Gateway Exterior

FOR the majority of people, the term ‘student housing’ will conjure images of damp, overcrowded buildings in a less than picturesque setting. However, in recent years this infamous vision of student ‘digs’ of old has been gradually abandoned as luxury new build, design-led accommodation has caused the evolution of the student housing market, making choosing a property a lifestyle choice for both current and prospective students.

Modern, innovative buildings with all the latest technologies and trends built in as standard are now an almost irresistible option and as the student accommodation landscape expands and transforms, so too does the university cityscape to allow for this 21st century experience. 

The most recent ‘Higher Education and Student Accommodation Construction Sector Report – UK 2014-2018’ from AMA Research, highlights that the student accommodation sector is worth in excess of £20 billion. With investment in the sector continuing to expand and develop, the report focuses on purpose built accommodation and the shifting imbalance between supply and demand figures.

New properties are being erected throughout the UK as a reactive solution to this problem. However, not only is there increasing demand for readily available accommodation, there is also demand for it to fit within the emerging student lifestyle that requires a more design-led approach. Unique external facades of more recent student accommodation are modernising university city landscapes, whilst ensuring the properties blend cohesively amidst their often traditional locations. 

A company at the forefront of innovative design for luxury student properties is Collegiate AC. Their newest addition to the Edinburgh skyline, Gateway Apartments, was the winner of the RICS Scotland Residential Award in 2014.

Gordon Beaton, Design Director for Susan Stephen Architects who led the project, explained the effect of the building’s exterior on the city landscape. “Many design options were discussed with planning in order to ensure an appropriate yet contemporary design which sits sympathetically within its surroundings.  Natural stone was used on the main facade to complement the tenements with a beige brick however, the courtyard uses white facing brick and lightweight glass staircases to create a bright open space.

“The use of white bricks in a coordinated landscaped setting has created a bright and peaceful sanctuary from the city – a stark contrast from its overdeveloped former use.”

This design choice has made an impression on the city landscape, emphasising the juxtaposition between Edinburgh’s old and new. The disparity between Gateway Apartments and the development that was there initially illustrates the influence student accommodation is having on towns and cities across the UK. New build projects designed for students are breathing new life into areas of a city which may have become worn or forgotten, enhancing the complete landscape.

Heriberto Cuanalo, CEO of Collegiate AC said, “The revolutionary designs now being used are not only changing the overall student experience, but also the physical landscape. 

“New build accommodation alleviates the pressure felt by university towns and cities to manage the ever increasing undergraduate applications, as well as altering the landscape in keeping with the new student population’s demands.”

Gateway Apartments are set in a peaceful and elegant enclave, within walking distance of the main campuses. These high-spec, beautifully designed apartments are equipped with contemporary kitchens, en-suite facilities, flat-screen TVs, double beds and ample study space.

As part of the design, on-site facilities include a private gym, common room, in-house cinema, laundry room and spacious study rooms combined with high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi throughout the building. 

The building also has secure electronic access, CCTV, on-site management and a concierge team.