Westfield Student Village, Queen Mary, University of London

Westfield Student Village, Queen Mary

University of London

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Location London
Number of units 955 bed spaces
Type Student housing
Completion 2004
Architect Fielden Clegg Bradley
Cost £29.5 million

General outline

Completed in September 2004, the Westfield Student Village is a complex of six student residence buildings at Queen Mary, University of London. Situated in the northeast corner of the Mile End campus, it is home to 2,000 students in 995 bed spaces in flats and maisonettes, half of which are in en-suite. There is also a provision of twenty-five rooms which are specifically designed to cater for the needs of wheel-chair disabled users. To avoid making the student housing repetitive, 17 different room layouts have been designed. This large complex makes the Westfield Student Village the largest self-contained campus in London.

The village also incorporates the essential student amenities on site including a canal facing café/ bar, a 200 seat restaurant, a shop, common room, launderette, travel agent and a central reception which is staffed 24 hours a day.

The £29.5 million scheme was constructed in two phases: three four-storey brick courtyards and a brick pavilion, which formed Phase 1 of the work, and two copper-clad buildings which formed Phase 2. The client felt strongly that this previously dismal site should be enlivened with landmark buildings.

One of the features of this project which is perhaps quite relevant is the fact that this scheme has been built on a brownfield site, a former railway gravel yard.

Form and Layout

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The site is large and tapers with the canal on the east, train tracks (which connect London Liverpool Street Station with East Anglia) to the north and a road on the west. Buildings placed along the east and north not only help to define the main spaces but also have an additional role of blocking sound from the railway tracks. The far north rooms have projected windows facing east, which help to buffer the sound into those rooms.

Rooms are en-suite and arranged in flats and maisonettes housing between 4 to 11 students with each flat or maisonette sharing a separate kitchen dining facility. Buildings incorporate composite prefabricated en-suite shower and bathroom pods in each room. Security is high on the campus and entry into the buildings is via electronic cards.


The buildings are arranged in a way as to give birth to a series of landscaped areas which each have a different character. They range from levels of privacy depending on how they are accessed. There are two major exterior public spaces on the scheme, one being alongside the canal and the other is a “village green” south of Pooley Hall, sited to benefit from early and evening light.

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Technology and Construction

Three of the buildings on site are four-story brick courtyard buildings. The bar buildings to the north and the south are clad in metal panels: the north in a brown, oxidized copper and the east in green copper.

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Pooley Hall is an eight-storey building which sits parallel to the railway and is clad in horizontal bands of pre-oxidised copper. This height of the building helps it to act as an acoustic shield to the rest of the site and protects it from noise. The elevations facing the railway have high acoustic ratings, with triple glazed windows and a highly insulated external wall.

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Sir Christopher France House, clad in vertical panels of pre-patinated copper, forms the eastern edge of the pedestrian street facing the Grand Union Canal and Mile End Park. The form of this building is perforated by a full height cut, lined in stainless steel, which allows views into and out of the campus.

Copper was selected for the project as it achieved the visual impact the architects wanted combined with a long lifespan and extremely low maintenance. There were various treatments available with copper and also the fact that it weathers with time, is what was appealing to the architects. The strong environmental credentials of copper were also a major consideration in the material selection with up to 70% of it being recycled.

The copper cladding was seen as a ‘skin’ which either pushed into or pulled away from the main body of the buildings. The jagged north elevation of Pooley House, fronting the railway, comprises a series of projecting bays which are designed to be seen at high speed from passing trains, were the most challenging to detail.

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Westfield Student Village was the joint winner of the 2005 Copper in Architecture Awards. The Village includes two copper-clad buildings and was at the time the largest copper cladding subcontract of its kind in Europe with an area of 9000 m2.

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