The Sixth Form Academy Hub at Neath College (part of NPTC Group of Colleges) has picked up a top award for improving the student experience at the Education Building Wales Awards 2019.
The award recognises a learning establishment which has invested in building improvements that significantly improves the experience of students.
It was up against top competition, but the project designed by Rio Architects came out with the honours. Rio’s founding Director Richard Roberts said: “Winning such a prestigious award is a wonderful achievement for Rio but even more rewarding for our team as we provided both architecture and interior design services. Rio prides itself on creating memorable environments for our clients and winning the award for Pupil/Student Experience is testament to this philosophy.”
The project involved the dramatic refurbishment, reconfiguration and extension of an existing 1960’s college building. It is now a bustling activity centre for students and staff, incorporating a large social space and open-learning environment which encourages interaction. Head of Interior Architecture at Rio and Neath College alumni Claire Broad added: “It was a privilege to engage and collaborate with stakeholders. The reimagined facility encapsulates Neath College’s aspirations and commitment to its students, I take great pride in being able to give back to the college that set me on my path for the future.”
There is now a new meeting and studying area for students, Starbucks Coffee area, student services HQ, and open-plan work environment. The space is also used for meetings and functions.
The work included installing a new contemporary glass extension that transformed the building, increasing daylight and creating space. The design also included new external cladding and a vibrantly coloured entrance pod that signifies the college’s main entrance and seamlessly connects the old and new.
CEO of NPTC Group of College’s Mark Dacey said: “We are delighted with the award and the new facility which showcases NPTC Group’s commitment to investing in college facilities and providing the best possible experience for our students.
“It really does have the ‘wow’ factor. Rio took time to thoroughly understand the requirements of multiple stakeholders and translated this into a fully integrated design. Our students now benefit from an exciting multi-functional space.”