Portsmouth’s new university building a gateway to inspiration

SOURCE: FCbStudios
An artistic rendering of FCBStudios' winning design.

By U2B Staff 

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Encased in glass and standing at a towering 13-storeys, the new £63 million academic building for the University of Portsmouth at the iconic Victoria Park is a visual statement of the future.

The winning design by FeildenCleggBradlyStudios (FCBStudios) will occupy a chapter of the university’s ambitious expansion story, a £400 million masterplan to grow its footprint through a series of high-quality, sustainability-driven buildings. 

This new academic building will bring together two faculties – the Faculty of Business and Law and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences – on 20,000 square metres of academic and teaching spaces. 

It will stand as the physical manifestation of the university’s environmental, economic and social aspirations, with spaces designed to inspire innovation and to encourage collaborative working, teaching and learning in diverse and distinct spaces.


Featured within will be two 250-seat and 500-seat lecture theatres, academic workspaces focussed around two triple-height spaces – the Park Room and City Room – each with large ocular windows offering sprawling views of the park, city and sea beyond.

Naturally lit and well-ventilated, the objective is to bring an element of the park to occupants, offering them a sense of wellbeing through greenery and the feeling of openness. 

Portsmouth university
FCBStudios beat out a shortlist of heavy hitters to land the contract. Source: FCBStudios

At the ground floor level, a ‘Market Hall’ will provide a flexible civic space for the university and city to gather. Scale 13 floors to the rooftop and a double-height 500-capacity destination restaurant and roof terrace will offer members of the public a place to dine, against a sweeping backdrop of the city below.

Explaining how FCBStudios landed the deal, University of Portsmouth Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said the firm’s design best encapsulated the university’s aspirations and vision for the future.

“The panel agreed that the building would create a strong identity for the university and a statement for the city,” he said.

“The design is an outstanding example of a sustainable and environmentally responsible building for the university. By bringing the two faculties together within one building, it will enable us to become a centre for collaboration, creativity, innovation and above all inspiration and interaction.”


The FCBStudios team was selected by an evaluation panel comprising members of the University of Portsmouth Executive Board, including the Vice-Chancellor; Deputy Vice-Chancellor; Chief Operating Officer, Executive Deans for the Faculty of Business and Law and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; a representative from the Board of Governors and the Director of Estates and Campus Services.

It beat other architectural heavy hitters in the RIBA Competition, such as Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Ltd.; Hawkins\Brown Design Ltd.; Nicholas Hare Architects LLP; and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP.

A key criteria of the design brief was to create a space that would encourage people to visit, which also forms a major part of the University of Portsmouth 10-year estates masterplan.

New structures to fall within the masterplan will seek to increase the visibility of the institution’s teaching, learning and business activities, also offering a welcoming space for members of the wider community to engage.

A key criteria of the design brief was to create a space that would encourage people to visit. Source: FCBStudios

As such, as well as providing accommodation for academic research and teaching and learning, the new building will provide student support services, general administrative space and public spaces on the ground floor.

“Our proposals aim to deliver new academic neighbourhoods combined with inspirational teaching and learning that will enable innovative working, collaboration and creativity across the two faculties,” said FCBStudios Partner Andy Theobald.

“Flexible enough to serve and evolve with the university, we have echoed the brief’s ambitions to establish a careful balance of environmental, economic and social sustainability.

“We are looking forward to working with the university to refine and deliver this project.”

Construction on the new building – expected to be BREEAM Outstanding –is expected to be completed in September 2023.