The proposed redesign of the Varsity Stay Student Housing exterior intends to create a recognisable and identifiable presence for the building within the constraints of the planned structure and layout whilst also referencing the existing Hatfield student housing developments in the Feenstra Group portfolio. The redesign also intends to convey an aspirational image for the development.
To create a recognisable presence, a tapestry-like building skin is proposed. This is achieved through the use of composite aluminium panels with proportions informed by the size and spacing of the exposed structural columns. Windows of the units are staggered, and in combination with the repeating pattern of the façade cladding, an intriguing and memorable mosaic-like facade is created. A perforated precast concrete block screen spans over the lift lobbies of 10 storeys to offer an exposed view of the interior spaces, animating the building facade to passers-by. Furthermore, the block screen allows for natural light and ventilation whilst introducing a playful display of geometry and colours across the various floors.
With the nature of Hatfield and student life being mostly pedestrian, it was important to create not only a vehicular sense of arrival but more importantly a legible and welcoming reception for pedestrians. This is achieved by creating a colourful, open and green double volume reception space that links directly to the lift lobbies. The residential portion of the building is separated from the street by 2 floors of parking, which was treated as a simple black box. As one approaches the building the solid black gives way to announce a light, transparent reception lobby. Considered use of colour along the route into the building and main entrance aids in legibility and orientation whilst lending the building a playful and intriguing character.