University of Northampton, Waterside Campus

designed by /

Location: UK / Type: Bridges and Piers / Campus / Built: 2018 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on July 8, 2024

The Waterside Campus sits on the bank of the River Nene, on the former Avon Nunn Mills site 500m south of Northampton town centre. Our task was to take a derelict 27ha brownfield site on the urban edge of Northampton and build a completely new campus within 5 years. Key aspirations within the brief included the creation of a ‘landmark development’; a ‘student-centred learning environment’; a ‘local community connected to the town centre’; and acting as ‘a regenerative catalyst’. From a landscape and public realm perspective, the University’s brief was to deliver a high quality and attractive design, fit for purpose and integrated into the local landscape and townscape so that it achieved a successful blend between the University’s needs and that of the wider community. The masterplan was to be strong as the initial single-phase campus, yet flexible with public spaces and movement routes designed with future expansion in mind.

The project was one of the largest single-phase urban regeneration projects outside of London to be delivered in the last 10 years. This highly ambitious project almost certainly unique in the higher education sector – transforming a derelict site to an attractive, open environment that is fully accessible to the public. Two iconic new bridges link with new routes provide strategic links from the town across the River Nene and beyond to Delapre Country Park. This has created a new ‘place’ for Northampton.

Waterside Campus has brought major economic, social and cultural change to the town. An influx of 18,000 students and staff into the town centre has had a fundamental impact on the vitality of the centre, as well as providing a catalyst for future development. For staff and students, their working environment has been substantially improved. Both social media and statistics from students on applications and time spent on campus are vastly improved.

As landscape architects, LUC had a key role in the design team from initial concept and planning for the University design team. Following early involvement with the masterplan architects (MCW Architects), LUC were able to inform and influence the developing masterplan using urban design principle to ensure the buildings and landscape flow together.

During construction, LUC held novated roles within contract teams for the Academic & Public Realm and Student Village contracts, whilst maintaining a client advisor role on the Infrastructure contract and the landscape masterplan as a whole. Our working relationship with both the Client and Contractor teams were key to the success of the public realm. We were known for our design skill, reliability, flexibility, and ‘can do’ attitude.

With a restricted budget and a lot to deliver in a short space of time across such a large and a heavily contaminated site, there are many examples of design innovation across the project, providing benefit to the client and wider environment. For example, retaining all contaminated material (approx. 1,000,000 tonnes) on-site turned a significant constraint and cost into an opportunity. Working with our ecology team, we developed the concept of an Ecology Zone – utilising this waste material to create landform and immediate structure to the project boundary, while providing an opportunity for pioneer species to establish, blending the campus into the surrounding context.

Project Data

Landscape architecture: LUC

Other designers involved in the design of landscape: MCW Architects

Project Location: Northampton, UK

Design year: 2013

Year Built: 2015 – 2018

Photographer: LUC


Products by Streetlife