Professional Services Review: ‘A Catalyst For Change Across Both The Academic and Non-Academic landscape.

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The challenge

Not creating ‘new old buildings’ and defining where the ‘front door’ of the University is!

Lancaster University needed to address the increasing pressure on the campus footprint where professional Services were located, in light of the target increase in student numbers and associated staff headcount growth. In addition there was a need to identify and create a true ‘front door’ to the University.

With a clear brief that the University did not want to simply create more of the same, an opportunity was created to test the appetite for change as well as positioning a solution approach which would indeed be a catalyst for wider cultural change across the University.


what we did

The approach to the project required both analysis of the existing site but also significant senior stakeholder engagement, visioning and facilitation. Our involvement afforded the Senior Leadership Team the chance to future gaze, explore and co-define the aspirations for Professional Services from an experiential point of view.

Through visioning sessions, engagement with the Professional Services Teams and detailed utilisation studies; we were able to identify the challenges, behaviours, pinch points and appetite for change.

Thus creating a platform to develop a number of possible approaches to the site. The majority of the existing Professional Services Teams were located in what historically had been long thin buildings of academic offices or student accommodation, with most only having a span of only 9-10m.

Whilst there was a significant proportion of under utilised space, it was widely dispersed and would prove difficult to liberate. In order to create the type of environment and growth capacity required a more radical approach needed to be considered.

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the result

Two approaches were conceived which improved the working environment, created a new prominent entrance and welcome centre:

Approach One - Improved the situation but did not really move the game on or change the culture and working practices due to the physical constraints of the existing space.

Approach Two - The more radical solution, creating the opportunity to realise the benefits of new working practices and culture, supported by an environment which has a zone of tolerance for the unknown against the wider University Master Plan.