University of The West of England, Soft Landings

Bristol, UK

Buro Happold was appointed as the Soft Landings Champion for the redevelopment of one of the UK’s largest Universities.

Our team delivered a plan that met the highest environmental standards possible and boosted the wellbeing of the building’s staff and students. The University of The West of England (UWE) enlisted us to improve, expand and transform existing facilities at the Bower Ashton campus.

Refurbishment plans for the Courtyard Infill project included creating an Open Access Learning Zone within an expanded refectory and bar area. An extended and improved library and performance space were also completed and have been well-received by students.


Buro Happold was commissioned outside of the design team and completion of the construction works. This meant there was little scope to improve the building’s design for better performance. Instead, our Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) recommendations focused on optimising the control and management of the existing building.


We provided workshop sessions to engage everyone involved with the refurbishment. The estates team, facilities management, students and staff attended these useful meetings, which were central in developing the project’s aspirations. Lessons learnt from previous ventures were shared, and an action plan was prepared so the handover stages to ran smoothly.

The courtyard area was given a new roof and glazed atrium. Single glazing was replaced with double, and we installed thermally-efficient cladding to perimeter walls.

Over 220 UWE staff completed a detailed occupant survey. The study explored how energy was used and asked for feedback on the building’s environment. The POE work enabled UWE to be sure the space met the students’ expectations.

We also formed a building aftercare team to ensure any issues that come up are resolved quickly and effectively.


Buro Happold’s POE and Soft Landings framework delivered such impressive results in cost and carbon emission savings, that that the initiatives are now being used across the whole UWE portfolio. Every single building project now has BSRIA Soft Landings at the core of their future contact documents.

In 2016 the building achieved an Energy Performance Rating of D83 – a marked improvement from the previous two years.

Our reports will help the successful delivery of the University’s Campus Sustainability Plan. The initiative’s targets are for all new buildings to show a 20% energy efficiency performance by 2020.

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