When we launched our new University Vision and Strategy two years ago, the front cover of the publication featured an artist’s impression of a pedestrianised Tyndall Avenue. The image captured a groundswell of student and staff feedback during the consultation process urging us to create a much more identifiable, coherent and welcoming heart to our Clifton campus.
This term has seen the first elements take shape of what is now called the Campus Heart programme.
Students returned in September to a newly refurbished Indoor Sports Centre with increased capacity, better changing facilities, a bigger gym with state-of-the-art equipment, and a much-improved facade.
Next door, Senate House is also going through a transformation. In addition to new high-quality teaching spaces, we’ve created a dedicated PGR Hub for postgraduate researchers. Last week the Students’ Union opened a new SU Living Room to provide central space for students to relax and connect with each another. Over the coming years, a large catering and social area will be created through remodeling of the two lower floors, while the upper floors will see the development of new reading rooms, a Global Lounge to support the University’s internationalization strategy, and a more central home for the Students’ Union team.
If you’ve been into Senate House lately, you’ll have seen a lovely and quite moving new artwork entitled ‘Belonging’ by print artist, The Fandangoe Kid, which was borne out of workshops with students and members of staff. A second student-inspired artwork, exploring the meaning of ‘home’ now frames the new SU Living room.
I know that many members of staff are already enjoying our new Staff Lounge in Royal Fort House which offers a lovely space to get away from the day to day pressures of university life, to rest and recharge, and to entertain visitors to the University. For those of you who have yet to use it, please drop in soon.
The largest single element of the Campus Heart programme will be the new University Library on the Hawthorns site. This facility will be a vital educational and research resource, particularly for staff and students in arts and social sciences. It will also provide a showcase for our internationally significant Special Collections and Theatre Collection, additional teaching and study spaces, a café, gallery and exhibition space. I wish to thank the many staff and students who have already contributed to the consultation and planning activities, and look forward to seeing the final design in 2019.
Building a new “heart” to our Clifton campus is about so much more than bricks and mortar. It’s about creating the kind of environment that our students and staff have told us they want: welcoming, relaxing, supportive and inspiring in equal measure!
Having said that, the Campus Heart programme does involve bricks and mortar, as any homebuilding project must. A programme of this ambition requires financial investment, logistical planning, careful management – and, just as importantly, a sense of purpose – which means that all this work is being directed towards something. Our Strategy was an attempt to articulate that ‘something’: a vision of our University as a close-knit, supportive and ambitious community of outstanding scholars, students and professionals who share an unwavering commitment to unfettered critical inquiry and the advancement of knowledge coupled with a global outlook, strong local ties and a deep sense of civic responsibility.
As we begin to put the pieces of Campus Heart into place, the reality we build will be richer, more unexpected, and more human, than those first exciting conversations over two years ago. The call to action for our community is ‘Make this yours’, because if we tap into this dedication and expertise and work together, it will better serve the needs of our students and staff. We have plenty of work yet to do, but we hope that creating a place to call home, at the heart of our campus will become central to the student and staff experience at Bristol. The groundwork is being laid and we look forward to working with you to create our Campus Heart.