WINCHESTER University’s landmark learning and teaching building at its West Downs Quarter has been formally handed over by builders Osborne, just over two years after the groundbreaking ceremony in January 2018.

“It is a huge thrill to now have ownership of our fantastic new West Downs Centre which has been delivered within budget. I want to thank everyone who has been involved for all their hard work to get us to this point,” said university vice-chancellor Prof Joy Carter.

“These new state-of-the-art facilities will provide an outstanding learning environment for future generations of students. It will be home to our growing portfolio of programmes, including digital and computer-related degree courses and health and wellbeing programmes,” Prof Carter added.

The centre is due to open in September, for the start of the academic year. The plans are being guided by Government advice with a range of appropriate measures to keep students and staff safe, including a blend of classroom-based and online teaching. The building boosts teaching space by 20 per cent, which will help in implementing social distancing.

The university is undertaking the internal fit out of the building, which was designed by Winchester architects Design Engine.

The building features an art gallery; a 250-seat auditorium; a café and food hall; contemplation space; courtyard garden, teaching spaces and library.

The flagship development is already the holder of a number of ‘firsts’: it is among one of the first university projects in the UK to be registered to pursue WELL Certification, an accreditation scheme which recognises buildings that support and advance human health and wellbeing. Winchester is also the first UK university to secure Green finance for campus development, with a £30m loan from Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank.

With numerous sustainable features, rainwater recycling, solar photo voltaic panels, a combined heat and power system and smart building management, the West Downs Centre is also set to achieve the ‘Excellent’ rating of the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). BREEAM is the benchmark standard for the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings in the UK.

Richard Jobson, founding director of Design Engine Architects, said: “It has been a privilege to work on this fantastic project and to continue to help the university realise their vision for creating a world class university in Winchester. The new building has taken over seven years to design and build and has involved hundreds of people in its creation from the early conceptual sketches and models right through to the craftspeople on site who help build it.”

Andy Steele, CEO at Osborne, said: “I am delighted our business has been part of the creation of such an impressive learning and teaching facility. It also marks another fabulous outcome from the valued and rewarding relationship with the University of Winchester.”

“In our drive to be a sustainable business we recognise that the impact of what we do goes far beyond the physical build. How we behave, how we treat others in our work and public communities, how we learn, develop and innovate has far reaching impacts on society.

The official opening will be in 2021, at a date to be confirmed.