Multi-award-winning interiors and architecture practice 74 has completed a stand-out student amenities project for client London and Scottish Student Housing within their new-build Symons House student accommodation block in Leeds. 74 also created the project’s branding and wayfinding.
Symons House, designed by Leeds-based architectural practice Cunniff Design, takes the form of a reverse L-shape building, with seven storeys located on its lower horizontal plane and twenty-one on the vertical upright section.
Both the building’s ground and lower-ground storeys, where the amenities spaces are located, stand out by being indented from the main building above and also by featuring glazed walls.
The interior design treatment for the amenity spaces took initial inspiration from the building’s architecture, where the materials palette references a recognisable local residential vernacular, with a broadly 1930s feel, including brushed brick with a pale-yellow tone and bronzed anodised aluminium window frames. The latter detail directly inspired, for example, the use of bronzed metal framework within the interior.
‘We worked with the building’s unusual angled glazed box base to make the most of views in and through the amenity space’ 74 Associate Bianca Yousef commented. ‘At one end of the building, the ground floor only can be seen, whilst, as the street slopes down, passers-by can also see into the lower-ground-floor gym space at the far end.’
The design of the amenity spaces represents a step change away from the bright-and-cheerful approach that dominates the sector, where spaces are often saturated with primary colours. For the Manchester practice’s second scheme for London and Scottish Student Housing (following an earlier student amenity project, Crown House in Sheffield), the brief to 74 was to create a sophisticated and high-spec scheme with grown-up colours, great detailing and a pronounced hotel/hospitality influence.
The full suite of amenity spaces includes a reception lobby, back-of-house space, study lounge, meeting rooms, library, communal kitchen, toilets, cinema room, gaming lounge and gym, as well as an 8th floor private dining room. The material treatment for the scheme includes bronze-finish crittal-style doors and glazing, which respond directly to the external metalwork, plus a double-dado rail treatment that further ties into the door and window levels. Large, rectangular lighting rafts in bronze-painted timber continue the metallic allusions.
The colour palette features neutral colours throughout with subtle, darker highlight areas in browns, greys, deep blues and olive greens. Flooring throughout is in Amtico herringbone timber, with highlight areas in black-and-white chequerboard tiling or featuring elegant carpet insets by Newhey. Planting is also incorporated throughout, though in an unregimented way to ensure the space has a relaxing and non-corporate feel.
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Photography by Gu Shi Yin