The University of Winchester's West Downs Centre has won a highly coveted architecture award.

The building won the Gold award in the global WAN Awards 2021 Education category, beating six other shortlisted international projects in the sector.

The £50m state-of-the-art learning and teaching building at the University's West Downs Quarter was designed by award-winning architectural practice Design Engine Architects.

The 2021 WAN Awards are judged by an extensive panel of top international experts who put entries through a rigorous and trusted process.

The award judges praised the building as being: “Designed with great care for the human experience, combining beauty and sustainability.”

Gavin Hunter, chief operating officer at the University of Winchester, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the West Downs Centre has been recognised by this prestigious international architectural award and it's fantastic to see our landmark building listed alongside some of the very best architecture and design projects around the world this year.

“The contemporary design and the materials used in its construction meet the highest environmental standards, representing the University of Winchester's core values and our commitment to sustainability, which is at the heart of everything we do.”

Richard Jobson, founding director of Design Engine Architects, said: “Design Engine Architects are delighted that this fantastic project has been recognised by the WAN Awards and would like to thank the University of Winchester for its vision and unflinching support, as well as the fantastic design team and contractor that helped deliver it.”

The design includes a drum-shaped 250-seat auditorium, art gallery, café, food hall, shop, library, social learning areas and teaching spaces.

The building, which opened in September 2021, boasts sustainable features including a combined heat and power plant, heat recovery systems, rainwater harvesting, a green roof and solar photovoltaic panels.

The University has registered the West Downs Centre for WELL certification, an international building standard for measuring how a building impacts on its users' health and wellbeing.

Other benefits for the local community include a ‘Changing Places’ personal care room for people with special care needs and their carers and a zero-waste shop due to open in 2022. The building also hosts conferences and meetings, with a range of rooms for both small and large bookings.

The University welcomes visitors to enjoy facilities in the building, including public lectures in the Auditorium, the café and the art gallery, where We Are Nature, an exhibition by renowned sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor is on show until 17 December 2021.

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