University of Suffolk Masterplan

Status: Proposal
Type: Education, masterplan
Year: 2008, 2011

Prior to the construction of Suffolk University, founded as University Campus Suffolk in 2007, an indicative master plan was drawn up by RMJM Architects, in conjunction with Suffolk New College Architects Sheppard Robson. The idea was to create a landscaped pedestrian thoroughfare from the waterfront to the college, resulting in the entire demolition of the 1960s college buildings.

Indicative layout, prior to 2008
Indicative layout of northern campus prior to 2008
2008 revised master plan

The university campus master plan was updated in 2008 following the planning applications of the James Hehir building and Athena Hall and consisted of three stages.


Phase 1 saw the construction of the Waterfront Building at a of cost £35 million, £15 million over the original estimated cost. Phase 1 of the campus was the only completed phase of this master plan.

Phase 2 consisted of the development of the Orwell Quay waterfront site with the construction of the James Hehir building and Athena Hall, with the remaining area being dedicated to future development. The space next to the James Hehir building was landscaped to become a temporay park, and was to see the constructiuon of two new buildings.

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Phase 2 with future development planned
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James Hehir building with and without future development
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Indicative render of James Hehir building and future development

Phase 3 was the redevelopment of the north campus, and called for the complete demolition of the old college building. An underground car park was hinted at with the whole area being built on for the campus. Phase 3 was never started and incorporated only the new Suffolk New College building as the plan states. The area has since had a 1960s building converted into the ‘Atrium’ as well as receiving a new proposal to construct The ‘Hold’ (new records office) on site.

Indicative aerial sketch of phase 3
2011 master plan

In 2011, following consultations with stakeholders, Ipswich Borough Council and University of Suffolk; following consideration of capacity, aspirations, timescale and affordability, a new master plan was devised. The plan covered 12 years of development and the Orwell Quay campus remained largely unchanged, however, the Shed 8 site was acquired following the collapse of the Orwell Quay proposal, allowing for the campus to shift its expansion efforts south, creating a coherent waterfront campus. As a result, the northern campus was drastically reduced in size and proposed the idea for housing on the site.

Waterfront campus 2011-2023 proposed development
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North campus 2011-2023 proposed development
Master plan as of 2017

As of the end of 2017, only four of the originally planned buildings have been constructed. The 2011-2023 plan seems to be behind schedule and somewhat altered. The Orwell Quay site has been marked for the construction of four new faculty buildings, none of them have a proposal but the sites are currently marked for educational use.

The northern campus is no longer following the 2011 plan with the recent conversion of a 1960s building into the ‘Atrium’ and the recent planning application for ‘The Hold’ on what was designated to be a car park. Following The Hold’s application, calls have been made for a master plan to be drawn up for the northern campus to allow the site to develop coherently. Following the recent Ipswich Plan, the northern campus, on the site of proposed housing, proposed the idea for a primary school, however, whether this will become reality remains to be seen as no legitimate plans have been made in regards to this proposal.

Images: RMJM Architects, Sheppard Robson Architects

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