Senate House
In Brief

University of Bristol



Senate House brings together new student social and support services for the University of Bristol.

Originally constructed in 1961, Senate House occupies a prominent location in the University of Bristol campus precinct.  Now refurbished and re-purposed, it is a welcoming, student-centred ‘heart’ to the University that delivers high-quality flexible student commons.

Senate House incorporates elements of the current Students’ Union, including the SU Living Room and loft, and provides a space to launch a new student-facing service at the “front door” of the University. It sets a precedent of design for student wellbeing.

The project addresses modern student learning and support needs providing spaces for study, socialising and collaboration that will be able to accommodate and support the changing needs of the students.

The adaptation of the existing building through a double-height extension to the entrance and courtyard, and the completion of the front elevation not only adds significant floor area, but gives a generosity of space that allows for the identity of the building and its users to develop. Improving the building envelope improves the fabric, to allow for low energy heating and lighting to be installed and the life of the building to be extended.

Future Retrofit

The use of a light touch, layered approach to the refurbishment will enable the university to make changes to the building as requirements change, to adapt the spaces for study, work and office spaces.

Exposed services with lighting and acoustics set at high level allow for easy future flexibility, but also show the character of the 1960s builidng and its original concrete structure.

Senate House Bristol elevatio, prior to refurbishment

We are all gloriously human because of this | The people who love you will see daylight even when you are in darkness

Most of the new spaces are intended to be student-owned spaces and to improve mental wellbeing. They are purposefully non-institutional; University colours were intentionally avoided in the new dining areas and the SU Loft, and students were consulted early on in the process with their comments directly influencing design decisions throughout. 

Consultation culminated in a collaborative artwork by The Fandangoe Kid, which clearly emphasises the importance of inclusivity, friendships and health and wellbeing. Further new art commissions by local artists will add to this sense of student ownership.

Artwork at University of Bristol Senate House by The Fandangoe Kid
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