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Preston Barracks

2015-Present

Preston Barracks is not a ‘university development’ or a ‘housing development’, but an evolving, outward-facing neighbourhood which will encourage students to engage with the city, and the city to engage with the University.

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Preston Barracks is not a ‘university development’ or a ‘housing development’, but an evolving, outward-facing neighbourhood which will encourage students to engage with the city, and the city to engage with the University.
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Strategy

A joint venture between the University of Brighton, Brighton and Hove City Council and developers U+I, Preston Barracks involves the transformation of Georgian army barracks and two adjacent university car parks into a much-improved university campus and mixed-use neighbourhood. The scheme includes a mix of academic facilities, over 1,300 student bedrooms, over 360 homes, and the first-ever Plus X innovation hub.

Location:
Brighton, UK
Client:
Preston Barracks
U+I Group Plc
University of Brighton
Brighton and Hove City Council,
Plus X
Plus X
Role:
Urban Designer, Architect and Landscape Architect
Status:
On site
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The site of these Georgian army barracks had stood empty for 20 years, despite numerous attempts at development, and our first key success was getting our outline planning application – one of the largest ever submitted to the local council – approved.

Preston Barracks is not a ‘university development’ or a ‘housing development’, but an evolving, outward-facing neighbourhood which will encourage students to engage with the city, and the city to engage with the University.

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As the masterplanners for the whole site, we’ve adopted a flexible and future-proof approach which is capable of absorbing the changes wrought by our ongoing financial and political climate. It’s been crucial to build in the possibility of changing the ingredients without altering the ambitions of the scheme.

Specificity

We are the architects and landscape architects for the scheme’s flagship element – Plus X Brighton. This new-technology and co-working hub aims to cement Brighton’s position as one of the best places in the world to be an entrepreneur and an inventor, providing diverse workspace for a wide range of creative businesses, all with access to a shared prototyping lab. With a new Business School also within the framework, Plus X Brighton provides the first step for new businesses to grow.

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On the ground floor are a café, seating areas and event space, and the building is designed to be flexible and reactive to changes in the market.
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A contemporary and layered aesthetic reflects the dynamic nature of Plus X, and a bright and open façade hints at the open exchange of knowledge within.
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The floor plates are split into two halves, creating an atrium in the centre in which a staircase climbs haphazardly upwards towards a roof top garden. This arrangement encourages people to circulate through the spaces, promoting engagement with other businesses and maximising opportunities for interaction.

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Plus X Brighton is on site and due for completion in early 2020.

Sustainability

Sustainability has been integral to every aspect of Preston Barracks. The scheme meets the requirements of BREEAM (Excellent) but goes far beyond this, and Plus X Brighton achieves WELL certification to Platinum Status. We’ve introduced various features to promote wellbeing: a 1km running and fitness route around the site with fitness equipment at key points, cycle docks to support Brighton’s cycle-hire scheme, as well as over 1,000 cycle parking spaces with a cycle hub providing showers and changing facilities.

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Our design for Preston Barracks has evolved from a brief which puts ‘place’ at the forefront. The long-term aspiration for the area is to create an inspiring new neighbourhood where people can live, work and learn together, and to attract and enable inward investment to the city. Preston Barracks is not a ‘university development’ or a ‘housing development’, but an evolving, outward-facing neighbourhood which will encourage students to engage with the city, and the city to engage with the University.

In addition to our role as masterplanners for Preston Barracks and architects for Plus X Brighton, we're also the landscape Architects for the delivery of the 'Furlong', a linear piece of public space framed by a number of different buildings including a medical centre, student housing, offices, homes and Plus X Brighton.

The design of the Furlong takes inspiration from the neighbouring South Downs, introducing textured grasses along a gravel route that mimics a chalk path. The public realm is punctuated by areas for food trucks, edible planting, table tennis and seating, culminating in a flexible square called Mannock Square.

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