The first academic building with 84% of classroom space dedicated to non-traditional learning.

Southampton Solent University is a vibrant, modern place of learning with ambitious aims. As an applied University, its focus is on becoming the leading skills provider in the region. Award winning architects, Scott Brownrigg had been commissioned to create a pioneering concept for its new teaching and learning space. Its innovative design was The Spark. The Spark embodies the University’s vision in its iconic design and use of space.

Dynamic environments

Broadstock used its knowledge and expertise to guide the project steering group to maximise opportunities for the University. It was vital that the space design within each classroom supported both didactic and collaborative teaching and learning. Broadstock was able to share the results of several trials, including the Broadstock Agile Lab at Coventry University, together with the outcomes of mock classroom trials at Solent, to give clear direction to it’s thinking.

The approach

Led by Broadstock, the University carried out a collaborative consultation on future learning strategy. Its expertise in higher education, coupled with its progressive approach to teaching and learning, enabled Broadstock to put forward bold suggestions, concepts that pushed the boundaries of building design and use of space to help the University realise its ambitions.

“We have pushed the boundaries with the furniture much further than we would have done – it gives us more flexibility for teaching and learning. The whole project raises the University’s game and has given us very different types of spaces. We are hoping that this will be reflected in both recruitment and student satisfaction scores.”

David Corless, Director of Estates & Facilities

“The team was approachable and imaginative, advising and leading the University on all aspects of the furniture selection and providing access to products which met aesthetic expectations whilst being mindful of budget. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience and a great end result.”

Ian Pratt, Director, Scott Brownrigg

Flexible thinking

It was essential that the furniture selection supported the functions of all the facilities within The Spark. Broadstock’s wealth of experience in educational settings and its ability to design and manufacture bespoke furniture delivered an innovative solution meeting the clients brief. Coupled with its capacity to source products from multiple manufacturers and its use of a single point of contact through a dedicated project manager was fundamental for the success of the project.

“The value that Broadstock gave us was that they arranged for a number of different visits around the furniture showrooms in London, for the conference centre and the atrium furniture. It was tactile and much better than picking things out of a brochure.”

Marc Goodman, Business Development Manager, Conference Centre

Design details

With its passion for perfecting spaces, no detail was overlooked. Broadstock provided power and charger sockets in the social space for students’ phones and laptops. Premium finishes like leather and Zebrano were recommended for the chairs and tables in the conference room. Desks were matched to different types of teaching rooms using colour-coded legs and different chair heights were selected for The Spark’s Pod to create a theatre effect.

Showroom visits

As the University conducts examination assessments, Broadstock recommended furniture that could be moved to accommodate both collaborative learning and exam set ups. The centrepiece for the whole project was the atrium, therefore the seating in this area was also a key consideration. Broadstock hosted visits to supplier showrooms in London to enable the clients to touch and lift the furniture for themselves, which was more effective than simply choosing from a brochure.

“The space is designed to promote a more collaborative and less didactic approach, so we needed to bring the outside, practical world into our classroom, give students snippets of theories and core knowledge and allow our academics to absorb and immerse the learners into practical problem solving. Hopefully the fun scheme we created will encourage that.”

Osama Khan, Director , Learning and Teaching

An exciting journey

Broadstock’s installation in The Spark was not an end result – it was the start of an exciting journey for the academics and students that was part of this incredible learning environment. To ensure the investment is fully evaluated Broadstock collaborated with the University to assess the impact of the new space designs and furniture, as well as undertaking its own post-occupancy research to help Broadstock inform future projects.

“Where Broadstock has added value is bringing together it’s understanding of higher education, it’s forward thinking regarding teaching and how we operate as a University.”

Steve Carter, Chief Financial Officer