About the Forum project

The Forum is the most ambitious and challenging project within the University of Exeter’s capital development programme. It provides us with a stunning £48 million centrepiece for the Streatham Campus providing a new Student Services Centre, improved learning spaces and library, and retail and catering facilities.

The Forum project is a development that will bring together formal and informal learning spaces and frontline services for students, alongside catering and retail spaces for students and staff. It will provide a focus at the centre of the Streatham Campus for people rather than vehicles and give a sense of arrival to the campus ... What is absolutely essential is that it works for the students. It needs to be flexible so that if future needs change the buildings can be easily adjusted to suit, and flexible so that spaces can potentially be used for a range of activity and to promote the University's cultural values.

Vision statement from David Allen - Registrar and Deputy Chief Executive

The build

After much deliberation, the Wilkinson Eyre Architects proposal was selected as the University’s chosen design for the Forum. A great deal of individuals took time to comment on the final 2 shortlisted designs, the feedback of staff and students being extremely useful in coming to a final decision.

Sir Robert McAlpine (builders of the O2 Arena and the Eden Project) were appointed as the main contractor for the project and began construction on campus in March 2010. After 72,594 man-hours of work, 4.5 Olympic swimming pools of removed soil and 2409 m3 of poured concrete, the Forum was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 2 May 2012.

The project was funded through loans, fundraising, lease premium from the student residences transaction and income from joint ventures. No government funding has been used nor was the project being funded by increased student tuition fees.

Arts and culture

The Forum provides a mix of both formal and informal performance spaces, from the 400-seat auditorium, to the open-air Piazza and the pedestrianised street all offering new opportunities for performance, art, film and literature for student societies and major events.

The Forum will also have its own version of the Fourth Plinth, known as ‘the Forum Plinth’ - a space available for temporary art commissions or for serving as a student soap box during guild elections.

Barbara Hepworth’s much loved sculpture, Figure, which used to reside in the Northcott Theatre, is now sited in the new University reception for the enjoyment of all visitors to the campus. An architectural glass art work by internationally renowned artist Alexander Beleschenko forms the artistic centre-piece of the Forum Building, and a felled lime tree that originally stood by the Main Library, on the corner of Stocker Road, has been turned into a tree seat sculpture by tree surgeon and artist Nigel Ross.

Sustainability

The environmental impact of the Forum building was minimised through design and methodology. Construction materials have been re-used and recycled where possible and Green Guide ‘A’ rated materials incorporated at every opportunity.

Biodiversity on campus was monitored throughout the build and extensive measures taken to anticipate the effects of the development on the local ecology, wherever possible rare plants and trees were moved or carefully protected.

The building fabric and glazing used in the Forum has achieved a level of thermal performance 10% better than that required by building regulations. This will deliver a serious reduction in energy use and CO2 emissions.

The development provides over a hundred extra cycle spaces, plus showers and lockers, to promote cycling and walking to campus, and the new piazzas create a more pedestrian focus.

Recycling bins are being placed in strategic locations around the forum building to facilitate a sustainable waste strategy and a composter has been brought onto site to provide organic waste processing services for the whole campus with up to 3500 litres of organic waste to be converted into compost every week and used to keep the luscious grounds at the University looking their best.