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workspace, educational and catering furniture


Southampton Solent University


The Spark

Project Value:


Southampton Solent University is a vibrant, modern place of learning with ambitious aims. As an applied University, its focus is on becoming the leading skills provider in the region.

With this in mind, the university carried out a collaborative consultation on future learning strategy, led by Broadstock. Our expertise in higher education, coupled with our progressive approach to teaching and learning, enables us to put forward bold suggestions and concepts that would push the boundaries of building design and use of space to help the University realise its ambitions.

The spark to ignite learning

Award-winning architects Scott Brownrigg had been commissioned to create a pioneering concept for the new teaching and learning space. Their innovative design was The Spark - the first building of its kind to have 84% of its classroom space dedicated to non-traditional teaching rooms. The Spark embodies the university's vision in its iconic design and use of space. It was also endorsed by the University's Director, Learning and Teaching, Osama Khan, who is a strong advocate of forward-thinking teaching methods.

Dynamic environments

As plans for the building began to take shape, we used our knowledge and expertise to guide the project steering group to maximise the opportunities for the university. It was vital that the space design within each classroom supported both didactic and collaborative teaching and learning. With this in mind, we were able to share the results of several trials, including the Broadstock Agile Lab at Coventry University, together with the outcome of mock classroom trials at Solent, to give clear direction to their thinking.

Design expertise

To turn theory into reality, our team of in-house designers worked on site in close collaboration with the client and the architect to finalise the designs. Creating mood boards and presenting fabric and product samples enabled the university to visualise the finished project in great details to ensure the needs of all stakeholders were met.

"Broadstock engaged key stakeholders early to share research adding another dimensions which served to enhance the project in line with the university brand and the architectural vision. The team were approachable and imaginative, advising and leading the university on all aspects of the furniture selection and providing access to products which met aesthetic expectations whilst being mindful of budget. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience and a great end result." Ian Pratt, Director, Scott Brownrigg

It was essential that the furniture selection supported the functions of all the facilities within The Spark. We have a wealth of experience in educational settings, as well as the ability to design and manufacture bespoke furniture. We can also source products from multiple manufacturers, giving our clients a single point of contact through a dedicated project manager.

Showroom visits

As the university conducts examination assessments, we recommended furniture that could be moved to accommodate both collaborative learning and exam set ups. The centrepiece for the whole project was the Atrium, so the seating in this area was also a key consideration. We hosted visits to supplier showrooms in London to enable the clients to touch and lift the furniture for themselves, which was far more beneficial than simply choosing it from a brochure. 

"The value that Broadstock gave us was that they arranged for 2-3 different visits around the furniture showrooms in London for the Conference Centre and Atrium furniture. It was tactile and much better than picking things out of a brochure." Marc Goodman, Business Development Manager, Conference Centre, Southampton Solent University

Creating inspiring spaces

We recommended furniture for a diverse range of facilities including a conference centre, breakout areas, social space and group learning environments. The designs took into account the needs of academics and students, and reflected the iconic status of the building.

"We have pushed the boundaries with the furniture much further than we would have done - it gives us more flexibility for teaching and learning. The whole project raises the university's game and has given us very different types of spaces. We are hoping that this will be reflected in both recruitment and student satisfaction scores." David Corless, Director of Estates and Facilities, Southampton Solent University

Design details

With our passion for perfecting spaces, no detail was overlooked. We provided plenty of power and charger sockets in the social space for students' gadgets. Premium finishes like leather and Zebrano were recommended for the chairs and tables in the conference room. Desks were matched to different types of teaching rooms using colour-coded legs. We even selected different height chairs for the Pod to create a theatre effect.

Delivery and installation

Our delivery and installation teams worked closely with contractors, Interserve, to ensure all the furniture was in place within the 3 week window that we had been allocated.

An exciting journey

Our installation in the Spark is not an end result - it's the start of an exciting journey for the academics and students that will be part of this incredible learning environment. To ensure the investment is fully evaluated, we will be collaborating with the university to assess the impact of the new space designs and furniture as well as undertaking our own post-occupancy research to help us inform future projects.

"Where Broadstock has added value is bringing together their understanding of HE, their forward thinking regards teaching and how we operate as a university." Steve Carter, Chief Financial Officer, Southampton Solent University

"The space is designed to promote a more collaborative and less didactic approach. We needed to bring the outside, practical world into our classroom, give the students snippets of theories and core knowledge, and allow them to absorb and immerse the learners into practical problem solving - hopefully the fun scheme we created will encourage that." Osama Khan, Director, Learning and Teaching, Southampton Solent University