University of the West of Scotland

Investing in their students' future


Download PDF  (1075 KB)

Keyn Chairs in a learning space.

University of the West of Scotland is a large, modern, multi-campus university with its origins dating back to 1897. It has four campuses across the west and southwest of Scotland and one campus in central London. At UWS, they invest in their students’ future. Graduates go out into the world ready to succeed thanks to their industry-relevant courses, cutting-edge facilities, and innovative approach to teaching.

The University’s commitment to their students’ success can be seen in the £100m+ investment in their award-winning Lanarkshire Campus, which includes 250,000 sq. ft of carbon neutral buildings. Housed at the Hamilton International Technology Park, the Lanarkshire Campus represents a shift in the way learning and teaching is defined in the higher education sector in Scotland and across the UK. “We looked at the last 20-30 years and saw that successful learning needs collaboration, with access to people to work with,” says Dr. Gordon Heggie, the academic lead on the project. “We also noted that learning spaces have changed hugely – they need to be flexible, tech-enabled spaces.”

Close up of Bounce Chairs in a plaza setting.

Nina Downs, Program Manager on the project continues “We needed the furniture to support the new spaces we were creating. We undertook a lot of research to familiarise ourselves with new and innovative furniture.” A key feature of the new campus was to challenge how people working and learning there perceived the space. Rather than a series of small, enclosed spaces, an ethos of co-location was created, making spaces across the building for shared work spaces. “When we were preparing staff for the transition into the new workspace, we found they were thinking very small, focusing on their own area,” says Dr. Heggie. “What they weren’t doing was thinking about the space across the campus. Every space can be a work space. We have encouraged people to move to the most appropriate environment for the activities being undertaken.”

External view of Keyn Chairs in a library.

In contrast to the academic staff who took some time to get used to this new approach, the students have found the openness of the space appealing. “More learning now takes place in open spaces,” says Dr. Heggie. “We asked for feedback from the students after they had moved in - what was particularly interesting was how they felt the open spaces and accompanying noise were actually preparing them for working in offices in the future.”

Staff and students at UWS had the opportunity to contribute to the look and feel of the new campus during the design phase. “Stakeholder engagement was really important to the success of this project” says Nina. “We procured a number of sample desk chairs and meeting chairs and invited colleagues and students to try them out and provide us with their feedback. This informed the final product choices.”

Dr. Brenda Hughes and Sharon McGoldrick said: “The chairs are very flexible, very supportive, and easy to move around. The back of the chair keeps us cool. It’s aesthetically pleasing, looks modern, contemporary, and creates an inviting space.” Nina explains “The Keyn Chairs are a great example of the kind of furniture we wanted. It’s an adaptable solution which could be tailored to be used in a number of spaces (through colour and features such as castors) but gave a consistent aesthetic.”

Keyn Chairs in a café.

Lanarkshire Campus has been crowned winner of a prestigious 2019 Guardian University Award which recognises the most sustainable and inspiring higher education buildings in the UK. It has also been named as the Campus of the Future at the Green Gown Awards. “The outcome has been beyond our expectations” says Dr. Heggie.

Photography by David Cadzow

Keyn Chairs in a library.
Setu Chairs in a lecture theatre.