Hawkshead Campus of the Royal Veterinary College has the busiest animal hospital in the UK and now a development of stellar eco residences to house their clinical students. Located in Hertfordshire, Hawkshead Campus has a working farm, an equine hospital, and the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals provides that aids around 20,000 animals a year. The residential complex was designed by Hawkins\Brown to alleviate a housing shortage for students and keep them close to the hospital so they could work. The low-rise, high density development achieved BREEAM Very Good for its use of sustainability strategies and was recently awarded a 2012 RIBA award.
The Royal Veterinary College tasked London firm Hawkins\Brown to design a new residential development to ensure their clinical students had housing nearby. The development is composed of nine three- and four-story timber-clad buildings housing studio apartments. Each floor houses six studios with a shared kitchen and living area. The buildings are clustered around intimate courtyards and adjacent to a dining area and conferencing facilities for the student’s use. Remaining sensitive to the surrounding countryside, the project’s design maintained an existing greenbelt.
The residences at the Hawkshead Campus were awarded BREEAM Very Good as a result of their sensitive and energy efficient design. An aluminum rain screen designed by artist Nicky Hirst was perforated with full and half-moon shapes to protect the buildings from the elements. Materials like Western Red Cedar timber and a Bronsgroen brick for the cladded were sourced locally. The bathrooms and parts of the external envelope were prefabricated offsite to minimize waste and ensure precise construction. In addition, the project features bicycle parking, water and energy management, solar hot-water, and grey water recycling. This year, the project was named as one of Britain’s 50 Best New Buildings with a RIBA Award.