Northampton university's Engine Shed wins prestigious architecture award

The University of Northampton's Engine Shed has been recognised as part of a prestigious architecture award.
The University of Northampton's Engine Shed has been recognised as part of a prestigious architecture award.

The Engine Shed, home to the University of Northampton Students’ Union, has been awarded a coveted national award for bringing abandoned buildings back into use.

The Creative Re-use Award handed out by the Association for Industrial Archeology (AIA) celebrates building conversions that merge modern architecture with links to the original design.

And this year it has gone to the University of Northampton's Engine Shed, which was re-opened as the new students' union at the multi-million pound Waterside Campus in 2018.

Gemma Lovegrove, current president of the students’ union said: “It’s a real privilege to have received the AIA award.

"The Engine Shed is a dedicated, central hub for the whole student body and it’s something the students’ union is very proud of. The university has created a fantastic, welcoming space that will be enjoyed by students for years to come”.

The grade II listed engine shed is an 1870-built Victorian construction designed for servicing locomotives on the Northampton to Bedford line. It has since had many uses, though it has been derelict over the past 15 years.

The original structure had deteriorated, the timbers had gone rotten, all the original windows were broken and the building had been vandalised with graffiti.

But the university put £3.8 million into renovating the shed and has committed to a 10-year management and maintenance plan. Now it has a viable long-term use as a multi-purpose building for the students’ union.

AIA judges also praised its use of modern design.

The building features energy-efficient elements to improve heat retention, air quality, low energy lighting and water-saving fittings.

The Engine Shed is also connected to the campus-wide heating system, which has been designed to produce less emissions than traditional systems, saving over 1,000 tons of CO2 annually across the campus.