This design project examines the issues affecting Salford University in the context of the Manchester : Knowledge Capital concept and the wider concerns facing higher education institutions in the face of current government policy.
The outcome of the design process is an attempt to reconcile the wide range of diverse issues currently facing the University through the medium of built form.
The major issues the projects attempts to deal with are out lined below:-
1. The effect of the A6 on the Campus.
This has long been an issue for the University and is the central contextual problem affecting the campus. 32 000 cars pass along the road each day, bisecting the campus with an 8-lane stream of polluting traffic. Two major public spaces of the campus, Albion Place and the area in front of the Art Gallery, are rendered virtually useless by the intrusion of the road. Pedestrians moving from one part of the campus to another are forced to endure long waits at the single pedestrian crossing point located on the 200m metre stretch of road.
2. The image of the university.
As Universities are forced to compete ever more strenuously for prospective students, or customers, the image, or ‘brand’ of the university becomes correspondingly more important. Salford have long been aware of this fact, with carefully considered public image policies and high profile TV advertising campaigns. The physical image of the campus is currently seen a detrimental to the University as a whole a perception which is exacerbated by the presence of the road as discussed earlier. The road is clearly a crucial area for which the university must seize the opportunity to project a favourable and memorable image.
3. Increasing University Participation
Competition between universities in the future will not depend solely on image, however, and Salford is beginning to make moves to establish competitive advantage in other areas. As the government attempts to increase HE participation to 50% of school leavers it is clear that universities will have to broaden their appeal beyond the traditional middle class base. For Salford this can be done by making the campus physically and ideologically more accessible to people from the surrounding areas, as well as the outreach programs currently underway.
4. Evolving University Funding
Another crucial area of diversification and future income involves the established of small businesses as spin-offs from university research. Salford University has pioneered this approach over recent years with the successful Salford University Science Park and intends to establish a new small business ‘incubator’ in the near future. The university sees fostering a entrepreneur spirit amongst it’s students, and tutors, as been at the heart of it’s future success. The institution owes it's existence to the entrepreneurs of the 19th century and it's continued existence during the 21st will only be assured if this strategy is paced metaphorically and physically at the heart of the University.