Industry News
Students design “healthy” student multi-storey accommodation from timber Winners of the TRADA University Challenge 2019
19th February 2019

Students design “healthy” student multi-storey accommodation from timber Winners of the TRADA University Challenge 2019

In a world where failing buildings and performance gaps are the norm, where professions are adversarial, and value engineering, cheap product substitution and below par building practices are expected – should we encourage our next generation of professionals to use timber in buildings?

The multidisciplinary team of six that aced this year’s TRADA University Challenge ignored the convention of the red line boundary and changed the arrangement of buildings around the site. Their innovative approach led to a design that combined post and beam with a modular volumetric structure. Slotted and stacked into four frames of differing heights, which maximised sunlight, the ‘CLT room pods insulated with wood-fibre’ are accessed through the communal central areas, adding to student community engagement. Each studio room included a shower room and a study area with external windowed views. Communal areas at both roof and ground level encourage further interaction. Total costs were estimated at £33 million with an 18-month program.

The TRADA University Challenge is a high-pressure charrette-styled competition which invites architects, architectural technologists, engineers, landscape architects and quantity surveying undergraduates from UK universities to participate. In 2019 the brief was to design “healthy” student accommodation predominantly from timber.

The intense two-day challenge – sponsored by the Timber Trade Federation – took place 8–9 February at the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building. Sixty students from 25 Universities split into ten teams of six, competing to see who could design, cost and engineer accommodation that used timber and timber products to emphasise health and well-being, energy efficiency, and building to budget. An existing site in the heart of Sheffield’s shopping district grounded and gave real life constraints to the project brief.

Team 9 scooped the top prize of £1200, closely followed by Team 3 in second place and Teams 4 and 7 in third and fourth. Quantity Surveyor student Andy Freeman (Team 6) from Sheffield Hallam University was Highly Commended for impressing Olly Booth and the judging panel with his knowledge, enthusiasm and application.