A decade had passed since the last masterplan for the Knowledge Gateway – the University of Essex’s research and business park in Colchester – and the University commissioned us to create a new one. The masterplan would help to increase density on the site, and would explore options for a number of new buildings including an innovation centre, as well as student accommodation.
We needed to consider carefully the ways in which the Knowledge Gateway would relate to the main Colchester campus. We also had to structure our masterplan with an eye to the journey of a fledgling company: beginning at the new business school, moving on to the innovation centre, then to small incubator units, and finally to larger premises.
Our proposals make the most of the site’s parkland character, with all buildings looking out onto green space from at least one façade. Proposed academic buildings to the south east of the site will lead visitors from the Colchester campus into the Knowledge Gateway, while a new focal building greets those coming from the A133.
Following the masterplan, we have also designed the innovation centre. Designed to be highly sustainable, it includes PV solar panels on the roof, as well as exposed concrete soffits to help regulate the temperature inside.
We’ve also designed two buildings for the Parkside area of the Knowledge Gateway for companies moving on to the next stage of their development. Flexibility is key to our approach, and each building will be relatively easy to adapt to differently sized companies, with flexible floor plates. The first of the two buildings is at the entrance to the wider site, signposting the way to an exciting future at the Knowledge Gateway.
“Our new innovation centre will deliver a step change in the use of our cutting-edge research to improve productivity, support companies across the technology, professional service and creative sectors, and create high-quality new jobs.”– PROFESSOR ANTHONY FORSTER, VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX