Located on the Lower Campus of the recently established University of Mpumalanga, LHA+UD’s new student residence and dining facility defines the southern boundary of the university. Initially appointed in 2011 by the Department of Higher Education to establish the Design and Development framework for the relatively new university, LHA+UD were subsequently appointed in 2016 to design a new student residence and dining hall for the increasing number of students registered at the university.
The building provides accommodation for 200+ students in a mix of single and shared rooms along with self-contained bachelor units, in tandem with the 700 seater dining hall.
The guiding principle was to create a building focused around social spaces and campus life. The arrangement of the building’s programme is such that it enhances connectivity within the building as well as to the broader campus and encourages communal living.
By splitting open the mass, the buildings programme cradles several intimate courtyards along the length of the site whilst acknowledging the larger urban axis that terminates at this site. The ground floor responds with an active edge to the internal campus street to reinforce the driving principles of the project. The topography, which changes significantly across the width and length of the site, required multiple floor levels on grade in order to retain an active street edge and intimacy along the internal campus road. Care is taken to align the building height to that of the residence across the road. This is achieved by means of upper floor setbacks on selected areas of the building.
The thick masonry envelope with deep set glazed portions; carefully designed balconies, façade penetrations and the scale of the courtyards and facades lend a subtlety to this large building. The south-west elevation holds an important position on the public façade of the campus and provides momentary previews into the courtyards and social dining space by means of voids, materiality and penetrations in the building envelope. The materiality of the thick masonry envelope is in direct response to the language of the campus and its greater context of Mpumalanga.