The University of Hull have today released an update on the project to refurbish and improve Student Central.
Since the announcement in November 2017 we have been working in partnership with the University to develop plans that reflect student feedback. We have now jointly agreed architectural plans and are preparing to go out to tender for a contractor. This is an important milestone in the project and means that we can now share that the project is expected to begin in January 2020, after a contractor has been appointed, and the upgraded facilities are expected to be fully open in time for students joining the university in September 2020.
The design will create a modern, flexible spaces to relax, study and meet friends as well as areas to support and showcase student activities.
We’ve shared updates on this project as it has developed. You can find them by searching ‘unionupdates’ or reading the FAQ’s below. Stay tuned for a video from President, Osaro Otobo on Friday where she will share more detail of what the project entails.
What has happened so far with this project?
2017/2018 Academic Year
In November 2017, the University announced their commitment to spend £4.5 million to develop Student Central creating a modern, flexible space to study, relax and meet friends at the heart of campus. Read the news story here: https://hulluniunion.com/news/article/investment-student-central1
Between January and May we ran workshops with current and future students as well as those who are elected to run some of our activities. Find out key themes from that consultation here: https://hulluniunion.com/news/article/buildingredevelopment
We also ran an all-student survey completed by 491 students. Read the results and key findings here https://hulluniunion.com/news/article/studentcentralsurveyresults
In May we ran additional workshops with international students and local students to understand their requirements from our building.
Over summer 2018 several areas of work took place to begin to realise the ambitions of this project.
One of the key areas of feedback from students was services. Students want a clearer picture of what is run by the University and what is run by the Students' Union, with easier access. Therefore, one of the key design considerations of this project is to bring together student facing services for both organisations into separate spaces and make them more accessible.
To realise this ambition, over summer 2018 work took place on the first and third floors of Student Central to bring the Universities student services team together in one space. This led to the relocation of the University Central Hub to the first floor. To accommodate this the Students’ Union’s membership services, Advice Centre and Student President Team moved to the second floor. Read the news story about this change here: https://hulluniunion.com/news/article/whatsnext
One of the key areas of feedback from students was services. Students want a clearer picture of what is run by the University and what is run by the Students' Union, with easier access. This included improved wayfinding, introducing a student kitchen, quiet spaces, more alcohol-free spaces and some redecoration work. Read the news story here: https://hulluniunion.com/news/article/summer_updates
2018/19 Academic Year
Following the summer works the team, made up of University and Students’ Union staff, Student Presidents, Architects, Project Managers and other specialists have been working hard to take the project through the various stages of the design process required to begin building work.
In February, we shared the finishes suggested by the architect and asked you what you thought of them. We set up a stand on the ground floor of Student Central with images and suggested furniture and finishes, asking you if you to place the images into a love it, hate it or ’meh’ area. This helped shape the interior design, ensuring that you will feel at home in the social and meeting spaces we are creating.
What does the project involve and which areas of Student Central will be affected by this project?
The updates in the next stage of the project are focused on the ground and first floors of Student Central.
A new street will be formed, creating a route through our building from north to south, connecting the Asylum entrance to the Courtyard student accommodation and feeding into a new central square at the heart of Student Central.
The square will be created by removing the large unused toilets outside Sanctuary and reconfiguring the stage area of Scoop @ Johnny Mac - creating a food court feel, with outlets opening into a central seating area.
The Students’ Union space on the first floor will be transformed to create large, light and flexible meeting and social spaces allowing you areas to study, socialise, relax, meet and take part in activities. A new Student President area will be created at the centre of this space, allowing the team to be more visible and accessible. Our Student Voice and Activities team will also relocate to this floor making them easier to access for the students they support. In response to student feedback, new formal and informal meeting spaces will be created across the floor including seven bookable spaces and storage for clubs and societies.
The Central Hub will remain in its current position with some additional meeting spaces to increase capacity. Toilets will be created on this floor as there is currently no provision at this level.
The Advice Centre will be relocated to the east corner of the building, accessible via the existing doors off the elevated walkway. This creates a more visible service whilst maintaining confidentiality for clients. The design also includes a new student kitchen space, something which was a clear theme throughout the consultation.
What areas of the Students’ Union will not be affected by this project?
The Spar shop, Eats, Sanc. and ground floor toilets (Asylum and Unisex) have recently been refurbished and will not be affected by the project. These services will remain open throughout the building work.
Our Membership Services, Advice Centre and Student President Team will remain in their current location on the second floor throughout the works.
Why is the work necessary?
Our building design has evolved over time, with areas been added as new services are required. As the needs of our members change we must evolve both our services and spaces to ensure we remain at the forefront of the student experience.
The commitment of £4.5 million by the University, has offered the opportunity to work closely with them to design spaces that not only meet the needs of our members now but also consider our future members and how they want to study, socialise, relax and engage with our opportunities.
What are the issues with the current building that this project has sought to address?
Through our consultation with students the following issues were identified as the most important.
1 (most important) Not enough social space
2 Flexibility of spaces
3 Directional Signage
4 Not clear what spaces are for
5 Flow of the building
6 Not enough commercial outlets
7 Publicity Spaces
8 Outdated design
9 Reception too big
10 Too many commercial outlets
How have students been involved in the project?
As soon as the University approved the budget we opened consultation with students. We ran three interactive workshops with current students where they gave their opinions on the current building, talked about how they use the spaces we have and took part in competitions to develop solutions to some of the problems with the building. We also ran sessions at three local sixth-forms to understand how our future students may want to use our building. Following this, we ran an all student survey (completed by 491 students) to explore ideas from these workshops and gather further insight. From analysing these results we identified some gaps in our consultation leading us to run additional sessions with postgraduates and students who live at home during their studies. We also ran workshops with students who are Union Council members.
Your Student Officers have also been involved in the project at every stage of the process and our President is a member of the project Steering Group, ensuring that the student voice is represented in any decisions that are made.