Men's Fashion Department

University of Westminster

The new Men’s Fashion Department at the University of Westminster’s Harrow Campus provides a flexible and professional studio environment that supports leading fashion design and creates a unique identify for the new Masters course within the wider university.

The concept for the project was developed in close collaboration with the users at an early stage. It was determined that they required a high-quality space that prioritised functionality whilst still providing a strong aesthetic that would be unique on the campus and therefore help to create a brand for the new course.

The existing arrangement of spaces was transformed, creating a single large studio environment with support facilities clustered around it, including an Archive Room with associated Garment Examination Room, a flexible Showroom, a Fitting Room, offices and new toilet facilities.

The design details have been crucial to providing the desired functionality and flexibility. The large studio tables incorporate storage for each student and are mounted on wheels to enable relocation. This flexibility is further supported by high level power distribution with cables coming up from the tables, enabling laptops to be easily charged whilst avoiding hanging cables when tables are not connected.

The Showroom incorporates bespoke window shutters that enable blackout of the room and act as pinboards which can be folded out to subdivide the space into several discrete review areas.

The architectural language was developed with reference to fashion magazines and photography, marrying a generally raw aesthetic with one key element of warmth coming from the plaster walls. There was a desire from the users and the design team to re-use materials where possible which enabled the existing parquet floor to be revealed and restored, with its blemishes being retained as a historic narrative.

The central spine is designed as a darker and more refined space in contrast to the adjacent studio spaces, with potlights set into a dark ceiling creating a catwalk aesthetic. Bespoke polycarbonate partitions have been designed to most rooms, sliding or pivoting to connect spaces in a way that is appropriate to the function of the room and allowing natural daylight to penetrate through the building.

The project is the result of a cost-effective summer works package, demonstrating how a creative and bold refurbishment can transform a tired existing space into a high-quality studio environment that students are proud to occupy.

Client: University of Westminster

Contractor: Parkeray

Size: 980sqm

Value: £900k

Photography: Matt Clayton