Yesterday, The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) opened the doors to its state-of-the-art student centre and university square, just as its students returned to campus for the new term.
UCLan says the £60 million development showcases the university’s commitment to student wellbeing and represents a transformative step in the wider regeneration of the city of Preston.
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Alongside indoor communal areas, study spaces and an expansive rooftop garden, the new student centre is home to the full breadth of UCLan’s student support services, from
mental health provision and careers advice to course information and accommodation assistance.
The 7,304sqm building has been constructed with sustainability, accessibility and student wellbeing in mind, offering a place to study, socialise and access support all under one roof, and even above it with the new rooftop garden.
The centre's garden offers stunning views of Preston, and is also home to 150,000 honeybees, which have been relocated from UCLan’s Westleigh House in Cottam where they have been grown and nurtured for the last three years.
The bees will play an important role in pollinating the many thousands of new plants, shrubs and trees which have been planted across campus during the course of the University’s Campus Masterplan project and UCLan even intends to make their own honey from the hives as well.
The 5,000 sqm University Square, which features WI-FI and plenty of seating, will become a new focal point in UCLan’s Preston Campus, and offers a go-to location to host large-scale events, such as graduation ceremonies and festivals, bringing the city and university closer together.
The new square is also embedded with motion sensitive ‘light threads’, which at night create an illuminated pathway, guiding visitors into the Student Centre and central campus.
Designed by lighting consultants Jason Bruges Studio, they symbolise cotton strands and are a proud reference to the city’s cotton heritage.
Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Central Lancashire, said: “It’s a fantastic building, it’s a really pleasant environment for the students to work in, and it provides a one stop shop in the sense that they can come in and access all the services that they require.
He added: “This building and the square takes the university into the city and vice versa. It connects us to the city in such a way that the city becomes more aware of the work that the university is doing, and that’s really important in terms of building and maintaining relationships. Obviously the square will be used as a multi-purpose square over the course of the year, we’ll be doing events in collaboration with the city which will enable people to get involved and become a part of the university.”
President of UCLan’s student union, Zuleikha Chikh said: “This new student centre is such a great opportunity for students, with all the mains services right in the centre of the campus, they can get all the information advice they need.
It’s also another social learning space which a lot of our students have really struggled to find over the last year, so hopefully coming back into the new normal, twe've got a great opporutnity to bring students together.”
Matthew Snape, an MA Film Production student, who also did his undergraduate at UCLan, added: “It looks amazing, it’s got a lot of stuff in there that the students are going to really like.
“It’s a great space, it looks fresh and clean and it’s a nice structure, you can work, and you’ve got a nice roof top garden where you can go and relax, so it’s about your mind as well as your work ethic.”