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John Foster Hall – A Building for the Future

The University of Leicester will be providing brand new, modern living spaces for students

The University of Leicester is responding to the changing pattern for student accommodation and conference facilities by opening a £23 million state-of-the art building.

John Foster Hall in Oadby will be officially opened in December 2007 providing 570 en-suite bedrooms.

Student attitudes towards accommodation have changed dramatically over the last few years. They have become much more discerning requiring modern, functional en-suite rooms, with fast internet access and to be part of a small community within shared living spaces.

With an increasingly sophisticated student population along with the need to provide high quality conference facilities in mind, the University of Leicester decided to invest in the landmark development of student accommodation on their Oadby residential site. John Foster hall is situated three miles from the city centre, in a conservation area which includes parklands with mature trees, surrounded by large private houses.

Several architectural practices were asked to produce designs to be considered by a panel of university staff and student representatives. A ‘fashion show’ of the design concepts and ideas took place. The winning concept was produced by Goddard Manton Associates of London. Key to their success was the inclusion of 29 accessible rooms. Accessibility was at the forefront of the minds of those involved in the planning stage of the project and the whole of the 5 acre site is designed to be totally accessible for wheelchair users.

Pavilion shaped buildings were created which reduced circulation space, allowing each flat of 4 or 5 bedrooms to have its own private entrance. In addition, each flat has a communal kitchen area which gives the flexibility to make some pavilions self catering. Accommodation was designed so that the noisier communal areas face towards the centre of the complex thus causing minimum disturbance to students and the surrounding houses. A central Facilities Building houses the dining room, a large bar, a reception area, two music rooms and a dance and drama area with sprung floor. The University is a popular venue for conferences and the specification of the buildings suits conference delegates as well as students as specified in our design brief.

The construction was completed on time and in budget, ready for a new intake of students in October 2006. In the year since its completion, students have been able to enjoy the full range of facilities. The new Halls have proved to be a huge success, reflecting the University’s future aspirations and improving its appeal to both students and conference organisers.

Frances Stone, Acting Director of Residential and Catering services said “This hall will set the standard for student accommodation and conferences. I believe it is amongst the best in the UK and was designed to meet the needs of the modern day students and students in the future. “

John Foster Hall has achieved that rare thing in construction, meeting both its brief on time and in budget; and the needs of its many and diverse users.

John Foster Hall takes its name from the former Chair of the University of Leicester Council. John became a member of Council in 1993, taking up the role of Chair in 1998. During his association with the University, John has served on a wide range of university committees. When making the announcement that the ‘New Hall’ would be named after John Foster, Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Burgess commended the tremendous contribution that John had made to the University. The official opening of John Foster Hall will take place on 5 December.

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