By Alex Leggatt
Durham University has revealed its designs for a new Business School development, which will be built on the disused Elvet Waterside Swimming Pool.
Recently released plans show that the building will be elevated by stilts in order to prevent flooding and lecture theatres will be dug into the ground in order to limit the overall height of the building.
The new Business School is designed not to be located on the flood plain, and will take into account the 3.5m rise in ground level from the river to the back of Old Elvet.
Recently released plans show that the building will be elevated by stilts in order to prevent flooding
Proposals for the £72m development has taken two years for the University to finalise, due to constraints on the site, which has been disused since 2008.
Other disused buildings will be demolished as part of the project, while Vennel Cottage will be converted to a café. There are no plans for onsite parking, except for 6 accessible spots.
The new building will stand 6m taller than the existing swimming pool and will afford a better view of the Cathedral due to being located further from the river.
Project Supervisor, Emma Flynn, said: “This is one of the most complex sites Durham University has built on. It has constraints on all sides, from the river, in terms of flooding, ecology, heritage assets, Old Elvet and the fact it’s very close to a Unesco World Heritage Site. We want the local community to really like it and want to be around it.”
She added: “We can’t stay on the current site because of growing student numbers.
“This is one of the most complex sites Durham University has built on”
Emma Flynn, Project Supervisor
“Our Business School is taking enormous strides in terms of research and education and we are in high demand. Students from around the world want to come and study here and we want to embrace that.”
At the public consultation on Wednesday 6th March at Durham Town Hall, residents gave mixed responses to the development.
Durham resident Robert Elliott said: “I utterly despair of the architecture. The project is fine and so is the site but the architecture is dreadful for the middle of a historic city.
“It’s a statement but it’s terrible.”
John Gibson said: “I’m just wondering if it matches the conservation zone but I think it really needs to be seen when it’s up. It could be horrible but it could be nice.”
Another woman, who did not want to give her name, said: “I like it. The building is modern and a bit boring but it does a function and it’s better than having a swimming pool that’s derelict.”
“The building is modern and a bit boring but it does a function and it’s better than having a swimming pool that’s derelict”
The university issued a statement on their website stating that the building “will ensure the community and visitors have an enhanced experience and increased accessibility to the riverside.
“It will also create a public record of site archaeology and heritage. Sustainability will be a main focus of the development and will improve the riverside location whilst complementing the site’s historic features and natural surroundings.”
A planning application is hoping to be submitted in May. The university plans to finish the project by the summer of 2022.
The existing Business School, currently located in Mill Lane, will then become a “hub” for the social sciences, who are currently occupying out-of-date buildings at the university.
Photograph: Durham University