Durham University is ranked in the top 100 universities worldwide and holds its principles of creating inspiring and engaging environments to the highest standards.

The Brief.

A number of their lecture theatres were in need of modernisation to make them more accessible and dynamic. Southernsbroadstock were awarded the project through a competitive tender process, by meeting the design brief in full and on budget.

The existing lecture theatres were very much in the style of a traditional learning layout. Fixed bench-style seating was offered in muted colours, no longer reflecting the student experience Durham University wanted to provide. Little consideration was given to inclusivity in the previous design and the structure of the room was one of a number of limiting factors.

Designing for post-pandemic learning.

Design works for the first lecture theatre interior initially started in July 2019, but the project was put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, students were badly affected from the sense of isolation the pandemic created.

Overcoming Challenges.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Durham University wanted to welcome students back with flexible and inviting environments, encouraging them to spend more time on campus. We provided an in-depth bespoke and modern design and worked closely alongside our partner Audise by Frem Group with work beginning in summer 2021.

Dynamic problem solving.

Unexpected issues arose with the lecture theatre in the university’s Dawson Building. A new approach was required when it was discovered that the subfloor would not support the proposed tiered seating. Timber battens were added to provide additional support to the floor and adjustable frames were required to accommodate updated fixtures. Labour force was increased to ensure the project was completed on schedule.