The Richmond Building

Marc Menear
The Richmond Building was built in 1965 and remains one of the largest purpose-built students’ union buildings in the UK, with a floor area equivalent to nearly four full-size football pitches.

The original building was designed to meet the pastoral, recreational and social needs of an expanding student population living away from home, hence the original design included large meeting rooms, television and games rooms, a barber, a bakery, dining rooms and bars, a proscenium theatre and a swimming pool.

The design of the £30 million project started five years ago. Construction of Phase 1 was completed in March 2013, incorporating a new focal entrance foyer, swimming pool changing village, teaching and administrative spaces to the upper floors and a remodelled public realm.

Phase 2 was completed in December 2014 and boasts 200 new study spaces, with spectacular views across the city, two state-of-the-art theatres, two café bars, several activity rooms, a digital media suite, dance studios, music studios and a refurbished gig venue, The Anson Rooms, with a capacity for over 1,000 people.

The new theatre was recently named through a student vote, ‘The Pegg Studio Theatre’ after the famous alumnus Simon Pegg, who studied Theatre, Film and Television at the University of Bristol. The actor, comedian and writer paid a whistle-stop visit to officially open the theatre much to the delight of the students and staff.

Now the Richmond Building, exactly 50 years later after it was originally constructed, has undergone a complete overhaul to meet the needs of modern-day students and be more energy efficient. It's a very rare example of a 1960s building being renovated to a BREEAM Excellent environmental standard. The installation of a combined heat and power system (CHP), with replacement of all mechanical and electrical systems, external glazing and enhancement of the thermal envelope, allows a shift from mechanical to natural ventilation for many spaces.

By replacing the old swimming pool air handling plant with a new heat recovery system, it’s estimated that 116 tons of carbon emissions are being saved per year, reducing pool running costs by more than £14,000 in that period. Moss is even growing in the interior walls of The Balloon Café Bar and a ‘brown roof’ has been created on the new extension roof from local flora, recycled aggregate and felled timber.

Faithful+Gould provided cost management services from the initial business case through to completion of the project. This included overall project cost reporting inclusive of fees, VAT and other direct costs such as client fit-out, as well as providing cost advice as part of the initial design competition.

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