Willow Walk Halls of Residence, Queens University Belfast

Designed in close collaboration with Richard Murphy Architects, Edinburgh, the new Holyrood Halls of Residence at Queen’s University Belfast, provide 267 bed spaces divided into single bedroom studios, through to two, three and four bedroom apartments.

Six of the flats are equipped for disabled students. A student common room overlooks all comings and goings into a shared landscaped garden space and has its own garden terrace. A communal laundrette, lockable bicycle store and general storage rooms are also provided.

Our brief was to provide the highest standard of self-catering units to help the University with its aspiration to attract high quality post-graduate students from a wide international catchment.

A major aim of the project was to encourage sociability amongst post-graduate students. Student isolation is a recognised phenomenon throughout higher education, particularly amongst students from the developing world, or those with a limited grasp of English. The innovative design aims to address this issue by clustering flats around arrangements of external staircases to foster encounters and social interaction between neighbours.

The finished scheme is both caring and quirky for its inhabitants, providing high quality accommodation in a sociable, contemporary setting, making Willow Walk a much desired destination for postgraduate students.