University of Reading Quad

As part of our continuing relationship with the University of Reading, our Landscape Design team have been working on their ‘route strategy and quad landscape’. This is an area that has huge unreached potential and will provide a new heart to the campus, reinforcing the University’s brand of mirroring excellence with quality of place. There were a number of key issues that needed to be addressed when responding to the route strategy. These included a perception of conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, overcrowding on paths at peak times which discourages walking and cycling, a demand for separate cycle and pedestrian routes and cycling to campus being below target levels.

Focussing on key design principles, we identified three linked spaces that each have independent characters that are driven by their function. These include:

Contemplate: This space provides a quieter and more contemplative feel, refining movement patterns and allowing greater use of space whilst respecting the existing natural resources surrounding it.

Gather: The beating heart of the university, this space provides a place for events and celebration, creating a strong sense of place and social movement.  

Play: A high quality place situated outside the student support buildings, that provides a lively and playful space for all to enjoy outside of the learning environment.

Defining these key spaces through their intended use, provides a clear and distinct sense of character and purpose, giving the spaces an identity and clarity to users. By pinning the quads together by an ‘orientation marker’ at the centre of the university and using clear and simple way-finding throughout the campus, a clear, safe and easy to orientate route is provided. The difference in materials and use of soft and hard landscaping across the different quads provides a further sense of identity and individuality, clarifying the role of each space and creating a strong sense of place.

Creating a strong and appealing campus comes as a result of ensuring connectivity, safety and circulation are at the heart of it. Ensuring the correct materials reflect the requirements and purpose of the space is key to creating a strong and high-quality sense of place. As the competition grows to attract students, universities need to focus on their assets, both academic and physical, creating a safe and appealing environment to learn, grow and play. 

Project Details

We focused on four key design principles for key shared routes:

  • Wide pathways: This increases capacity, allowing room for cyclists and pedestrians to move comfortably together, reducing conflict and creating a unified shared space.
  • Good visibility: Increasing forward visibility allows both cyclists and pedestrians to plan their journey, providing uninterrupted movement.
  • Space (at intersections): Creating generous space at intersections allows movement without conflict.
  • Escape (in an emergency): Ensuring practical routes should not be constrained at the edges to allow the option of ‘escape’ for both cyclists and pedestrians, improving safety and reducing conflict.