74 has completed a £2.7m project to extend and remodel a Grade II-listed, two-storey, Victorian brick building in a semi-rural location in Englefield Green, just outside Egham. The repurposed 453 sq m building - Hox Haus - will serve as the central focus, clubhouse and social amenity for Hox Park student campus, newly-created by developers Moorfield Group for students attending Royal Holloway, University of London.
The new campus is located within a larger, 67-acre mixed-use site, owned by Royalton Group. Its Surrey location, near Runnymede, where Magna Carta was once signed, lent the site its name: Magna Carta Park. The Hox Park campus is one aspect of an overall masterplan for the site that also includes affordable and luxury housing, as well as an Audley Senior Living village.
The vision for Hox Haus was to encompass a number of important practical, social and unifying functions for its student users, including serving as a welcome point and gatehouse; parcel pick-up area; workspace for single study or group study and a downtime amenity with TV and games lounges, offering video-gaming booths, pool and table football. The building will also serve as the campus hospitality hang-out, offering free soft drinks, tea points and vended snacks and has also been flexibly designed for easy reconfiguration as a special event space, with moveable furniture and built-in bar points able to house pop-up catering.
Architecturally, Hox Haus is a stylish, eye-catching and dynamic 2-storey building that seeks to blend its original Victorian brickwork with two new glazed 'light box' interventions, creating a light-filled and largely transparent overall space that brings the outside in, references the building's semi-rural location and offers a warm, comfortable and relaxing home-from-home for students. The two new interventions constitute a double-height, 44 sq m gatehouse to the building's east elevation and a 35 sq m, covered terrace section on the first storey, offering views over the whole campus. The terrace extension sits behind the parapet of an existing ground-floor extension, making it subservient to the host building. Both new interventions are clad or semi-clad (at first floor level for the gatehouse) with bronze-coloured, 4.6m-high, anodised aluminium fins. The fine, hard surfaces of the glazing and metal fins create a striking and elegant contrast to the rough-textured and robust solidity of the original structure, adding refinement and reflectivity to the building as a whole.
The heritage of the building was a key driver for the interior approach and, unlike many architectural projects, the interior was in fact the key driver overall, so that the architecture is subservient to both the existing host building and the functions within. The overriding concept was to create a space that felt like a country retreat or clubhouse-with-a-twist. The new gatehouse provides a sense of arrival, whilst offering a separation between the functions of 'reception' and the need for a comfortable student social space monitored, but not overlooked, by staff.
While certain areas have key functions, such as the two group study areas or the TV and gaming lounges, others are multi-functional, for students to make use of as they wish. The central zones are more obviously social, whilst quieter zones areas can be found along the edges of the two-storey space and within the first floor extension directly above the welcome area.
It was an important part of the scheme's design that natural 'collision points' for interaction were encouraged. "We considered social psychology throughout the planning stages of the interior," David Holt, Founder and Director of 74 explained. "Whilst students spend as much time as they wish on their own in their individual rooms, the idea here was that individual activity would always have a social aspect, so that no one feels isolated by their location. Gaming booths, for example, have been designed with glazed screens and without doors in order to retain connectivity at all times. We have introduced several planting elements within the scheme additionally to introduce a strong biophilic aspect and enhance students' sense of wellbeing."
Photography: Ed Kingsland