A new hue for 'Hu Stu'

One of University Park Campus's most iconic halls - Hugh Stewart Hall - is in the midst of an exciting new stage of its life as it undergoes a two-year refurbishment. The hall is closed for the 22-23 and 23-24 academic years.

The refurbishment is part of 'Project Stay', the university’s plan to refurbish all on-campus halls of residence over the next 10-15 years.

This also includes the current refurbishment of Florence Boot Hall. Construction work is anticipated to commence in March 2023, with the refurbished accommodation reopening to students again in September 2024.

Artist's impression of the new amenity block at Hugh Stewart Hall

An artist's impression of the new amenity block at Hugh Stewart Hall

The work will focus on transforming the bedrooms and facilities into a vibrant, accessible environment that caters to students’ current and future needs.

Both the 1930s block (in yellow below) and the 1960s block (in blue) will be reconfigured, adding communal spaces to each cluster of rooms and increasing the number of ensuite rooms.

The architectural history of Hugh Stewart Hall (courtesy of the Friends of University Park)

The design of Lenton Hall, by William Stretton and Mr Wilkinson, is in a pseudo-Gothic style, embellished with battlements and turrets - perhaps a statement of the owners intention to protect family and property.

However, the architectural styles are a little mixed in the 1905 re-modelling of the south facade by George Cresswell Bond. Greek, Baroque and Jacobean styles are all in evidence. Although the house is said by Pevsner not to have been completed until 1804 there is an earlier date carved: 1792-1905.

The latter date is that of the re-modelling, but the earlier date has no obvious explanation as the land was not purchased for building until 1798.

The influence of 18th-century symmetry can be seen on the west side of the house, where 'dummy' windows, complete with mock lace-edged blinds and cords, were painted in the gaps between the windows.

Now barely visible, the illusory windows also saved money on the 'window tax' payable between 1696 and 1851.

In addition, the makeover will see improved insulation in both buildings, helping us to achieve sustainability targets.

In the 1930s block, the current kitchen and catering facilities will be relocated to the ground floor, providing accessible options for all students.

One of the more notable changes will be the introduction of a new amenity and welcome hub offering vistas over the downs, complementing the heritage and environmental setting of Hugh Stewart Hall.

These new facilities will offer centralised services to Hugh Stewart Hall and surrounding halls, as well as social amenities such as a cinema room and flexible social/event venues.

The university's estates team has been collaborating with specialist environmental and architectural consultants to ensure that the proposed works and refurbishment designs complement the historical and cultural significance of Hugh Stewart Hall; this principle has remained integral to the design process.

The team will continue consulting with both internal and external stakeholders throughout the implementation phase.