Hat Trick overhauls Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University is to undergo a major redevelopment of its estate, a £150m project that will involve a radical new approach to its external communications and branding.

The development by branding consultancy Hat Trick, which started earlier this month, is expected to take up to ten years to complete and will improve the infrastructure of the university’s three campuses.

Oxford Brookes is yet to appoint an architect or an interior design consultancy to the estate development.

At least 70 per cent of the buildings will be demolished and replaced by what Oxford Brookes hopes will be modern sites that ‘embody the way students learn today’.

The development will also connect two of the university’s campuses, which are about 150m away from each other, using graphics, street furniture, banners and signage.

Hat Trick has been commissioned to create a communications strategy that will support the development.

It will include main entrance graphics, lighting, street furniture, hoardings, public art and a visitor centre.

The promotion and branding of the development will also be an opportunity to raise the university’s profile within the area, according to an Oxford Brookes spokesman.

The university selected Hat Trick Design last month from a four-way credentials pitch against Pentagram, Radford Wallis and Checkland Kindleysides.

One aspect of the project that has to be addressed is the minimisation of disruption through the building process, while current students should be made to feel encouraged about the future benefits of the work, according to Hat Trick project director David Kimpton.

Another objective is to define a ‘learning quarter’ that joins both campuses at either end of the Headington Road, the gateway from London to Oxford, says Kimpton.

‘There are a number of other institutes around the area. An idea at this stage is to create a learning zone that would be a key feature along the main route into Oxford,’ he adds.

The opportunities for the project to evolve into a more long-term approach at this stage are plentiful, with elements such as signage that could become part of a permanent wayfinding system for the new buildings.

‘The more we talk the more we realise what could happen and what could be achieved. Oxford Brookes is considering everything at the moment,’ says Kimpton.

Hat Trick is currently working on an overall concept that can be used across the entire development and expects to create a set of brand guidelines for the university’s in-house design team.

Funding for the project is coming from a number of sources, including the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the university’s own fundraising efforts.

• The university has 18 727 students, 23% of whom are international
• The university claims to be the world’s first to be awarded Fairtrade status: it has a Green commuter scheme for students and teachers, uses 100% renewable energy and is piloting a scheme with the Carbon Trust to reduce its carbon footprint
• It claims to have been named best new university by the Sunday Times University Guide for the past five years

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