University Of Nottingham

Campus Innovation

Using the power of collaboration and innovation to shape campus spaces that meet the needs of future students

The University Of Nottingham Students’ Union, in partnership with a range of other UON stakeholders, wanted a more purposeful future for their huge and imposing Portland Building. They reached out to us for their first ever co-creation project, looking to understand the current role of the space among users and exploring the future purpose of the building, with a focus on student needs.


Using a participatory approach and bringing inspiration from the fields of architecture/design (both in the public and private sectors), we took members of the Student Union, university staff and students through a four stage process of in-situ methodologies. These ranged from intercept interviews and ethnography to open innovation workshops, enabling us to gather valuable cultural insights to inform the re-development of the space.

Our work contributed to the creation of a set of implementation guidelines on what the future student hub should stand for, and how to integrate it within the university campus, complimented with illustrations of what the space could look like from both professional and student designers. The work has been nominated for the MRS Virginia Valentine Award for Cultural Insights in 2014.

In July 2014 the SU announced that its plans – informed by our research – have been accepted by the University and are currently sitting with architects. Come back in 2017 to see the revamped union in action. Check out the plans here