Southside Hereford: University Design Challenge 2022

Design challenge


Preparing the next generation of net zero professionals.

The Challenge

    Reimagine how a community centre can connect people in Southside Hereford and apply your knowledge to solving a real world problem.
    Create detailed designs which are ‘net zero’, employ sustainable building materials and construction methods, are energy and resource efficient.
    Connect with your peers and future colleagues from across the built environmental sector by working as you would in your professional life.
    Our graduates go on to get jobs in leading built environment firms at the cutting edge of building a new-low carbon world.
    Wood is crucial to building a low-carbon future, and we need a new generation of UK professionals with the knowledge to use it wisely and well.

TIMELINE: DEC 2021 – JUL 2022 

Challenge Launch

We launch at the end of December 2021 with our partners Edinburgh Napier University and NMITE, and begin our mission to equip a new generation of professionals with the skills to take on climate change.

Webinar series

More than 60 built environment professionals come together across 18 webinars between January and March 2022 to upskill the next generation on how to build low carbon.

Teams formed

More than 150 students come together to form interdisciplinary teams from a wide range of built environment courses from 57 Universities and Further Educations Colleges found right across the UK.

Online Sessions

Students work together as interdisciplinary teams from March to June 2022 to meet the project brief, meeting in person and online with the support of Timber Development UK to complete their submission.

Winners Ceremony

The winners of the Timber Development UK University Design Challenge (#TDChallenge22) are announced in an in-person ceremony at NMITE’s Skylon Campus in Hereford on July 2022.

The Brief

This challenge was open to multidisciplinary teams of between 4-8 who are studying a Built Environment course at a UK university or who graduated in 2021. Both individual participants or others could form or create and join a team.

“Hereford aspires to be one of the greenest and fairest cities in the country, with fantastic opportunities and quality of life for people of all ages. Deeply rooted in our unique rural heritage, we’re blossoming into a richly creative, digital, connected and highly-skilled place to live, work study, invest and visit.”

The stakeholders, your clients in this competition, will set out their requirements and needs for Southside Hereford which is to be a physical building to provide a vibrant, inspiring and inclusive sports, food and skills community focal point for the people of South Wye.

Participating teams must produce designs that sites the community centre within the local context and landscape, integrating the client’s and community’s interests.

The detailed designs must be ‘net zero’, creatively employing sustainable building materials and construction methods, and be energy and resource efficient, focusing on the health and well-being of people, the community, and our planet. Designed for longevity, adaptability, circularity and a warming climate and producing more energy than it requires, MMC and DfMA should be explored.

The main material focus and specification for the centre will be timber and timber hybrid systems. Your team’s detailed design for the building will meet the Passivhaus Standard and exceed the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets.

In Numbers


The shortlist

A vibrant space

‘Our design creates a welcoming and vibrant space which balances the requirements of all three clients.

‘The central airy space, covered by a barn-inspired timber, provides a space for three different communities to come together.

‘The principle of sustainable design has been incorporated throughout the design through standardised SIP panels, which will provide a warm cosy environment for football players and students alike.

‘The design has considered modern methods of construction and the prefabrication of the wall and roof elements to enable quick and rapid construction.’

Responsible Design

The building is designed with a holistic perspective on sustainability, it will educate and raise awareness, to nurture the next generation of climate conscious environmentally responsible people.

It will nurture and grow a model community of the future, targeting Hereford where it needs it the most. Connecting people with their local food, grown by locals in an educational garden. New users come to experience the spaces and are encouraged to stay and engage with sustainability. The cook school has tall windows in the structural bay overlooking growing allotments with access to pick vegetables.

The building runs on minimal energy, and aims to produces it for the grid, working with the elements like a biological organism‘s cell. The sunspace becomes the open social market café shop and initial welcoming space of the building as users walk up using the public footpath. It prevents overheating and summer cooling demands, as plants, harness excess radiation.

Full height sun space provides daylight, making the glass envelope advantageous and an active frontage. Moveable sliding shutters can shade and open the spaces up onto the outdoor deck to catalyse social synergy, unravel the activities of the organisations housed within to the wider community and allow intergenerational gathering. Foliage and landscaping, dissolves the harsh building edge, blending it into landscape and reducing its visual impact.

Wye not wood?

Gathering carbon, culture, and community, the new Hereford Hub will become a catalyst for local-level empowerment and ecological generation.

The timber architecture nestles gently into a scenic greenfield – using natural climatic patterns and low-cost methods to generate solar electricity, utilising rainwater, and recovering heat for the internal environment.

Fresh links are provided between residents and local experts, offering educational services in sustainable construction, circular food economies, and outdoor play.

The connectiveness established between clients and stakeholders will resonate in progress that will be made in building a green future for Hereford and beyond.

Solar gain

Our design comprises of a U-shaped structure that encloses a courtyard. This form allows for maximum solar gain while also creating a social hub at its center, where all three users can interact.

The building sits in front of the existing hedge line, instead of replacing it, to retain its rich vegetation and minimize our impact. To accommodate the diverse functions of the brief and the variety in privacy demands, we created multiple entrances with the public and private spaces having their own, separate orientations.

Lastly, the social moments in the building occur both internally in the allocated spaces but also more organically in the central courtyard.

Holistic southside

Identifying the three communities and designing for each distinct usage was integral in creating a holistic southside centre.

Through a fabric first approach and timber-based design, Team 10 proposes a sustainable, non-disruptive, and user centric space. Paired with complementary clusters of landscape design, each user profile experiences a tailored entrance sequence.

Our holistic centre provides appropriate social cohesion with consideration for smaller age groups from cooking workshops. By following exemplary LEED/BREEAM standards, meeting RIBA/LETI requirements were naturally met. An iterative process was essential throughout the design phase to minimize embodied carbon while ensuring sensible costing and MMCs.

Southern Facade

Isolated on the boarder of the Herefordshire countryside. A place for people to escape the city, refresh, socialise and learn new skills.

The elongated southern façade maximises natural light and green vista, whilst minimising our impact both visually and environmentally. The rooms, positioned with care to allow for movement and collision spaces but, where needed, seclusion and privacy.

This space is for Hereford; for different user groups coming together to form one community.The design philosophy was future proofing – minimal internal structures for future arrangement, easily extendable out of the east and west walls, and, le pièce de résistance, a fully loadable roof space ripe for the utilisation.

The winners

Congratulations to the winners Alice Senior (University of Portsmouth), Malwina Bartoszewicz (Edinburgh Napier University), Johanna Schwarting (Swansea University), Kyle Henderson (Robert Gordon University), Daniela Lopez (University of Gloucestershire), Ali Uddin (The University of Edinburgh), and Deepak Sadhwani (Cardiff University / Prifysgol Caerdydd).


It is unique, pulling together multi-disciplinary teams from multiple universities to give students a real taste of what is like to work in the industry, collaborating and problem-solving with other individuals to meet a client brief.

Not only does the competition do this, but it also gives all of the required skills and tools for them to provide considered and appropriate designs to limit their solution’s impact on the global climate crisis, an absolute necessity right now, and something professional teams often struggle with.

The entries were outstanding, the presentations were engaging and the answers to our questions were intelligent and well thought through. Congratulations to all of the teams!

Kelly HarrisonAssociate Director, Whitby Wood and TDUK Board Member

Although I've grown accustomed to timber design as a studying structural engineer, the university challenge made me appreciate and learn about how timber construction may best integrate with others in the design team. By understanding the roles of others I myself could do better at my own role, essentially. The university challenge was also my first step into the realm of Passivhaus and what it takes for design certification. Since then I've undertaken the official Passivhaus designer exam to (hopefully!) work on Passivhaus projects as a structural engineer.

Adnan AlmullaUniversity of Bath

The students came up with some really buildable and very well thought out schemes, where they considered structures, environmental performance and a whole range of other aspects. The quality of the responses was very high, with some excellent and innovative approaches to the brief.

Anthony ThistletonFounder and Director, Waugh Thistleton Architects and TDUK Board Member

What I take from this competition is the wonderful experience of having to work together as a group with people who I never met before but who have incredible and innovative ideas. Furthermore, I loved the webinars that were great guidance in order to complete the challenge. I am planning to use what I learnt from team work and design techniques in my future projects and new competitions. Thank you! For the experience.

Daniela LopezUniversity of Gloucestershire

The students tackled a tricky multi-client brief whilst tracking the golden thread of environmental excellence through their design iterations - I have no doubt that the rigour needed to familiarise themselves with the Passivhaus design outcome will stand them in good stead in their career progression, and the judges particularly appreciated the enthusiasm and energy they brought to this through inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Lynne Sullivan OBEArchitect, LSA Studio

TDChallenge2022 was an amazing experience and enabled me to put into practice knowledge from university, whilst at the same time collaborating and learning from other construction disciplines. Attending the award ceremony was a great way of meeting like-minded students and professionals in the industry and I look forward to trying to make a difference in the construction industry with the knowledge of sustainability that I have learnt.

Joseph MeehanUniversity of Bristol

The #TDChallenge22 brought together interdisciplinary students, companies, sponsors, judges, and educators from across the UK, resulting in a phenomenal display of competence, energy and commitment to sustainability and learning. I was proud to have been a judge and that NMITE was a partner organisation and a host to the competition. Well done everyone!

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon FIET, PFHEA, FCMIPresident & Chief Executive, NMITE

Working on the TD2022 Challenge has been nothing short of remarkable. It has allowed me to apply my knowledge of Engineering to an interesting brief and produce some amazing results in the process. It has also really highlighted to importance of sustainable development in addition to learning more about things like Passivehaus. I have learnt so much from this project as well as expanding my network. I look forward to participating in the challenge next year!

Numaan AmarUniversity of Birmingham

It was great to be involved in judging the entries, I thought all the students did fantastically well.

Richard Pidduck SmithTrustee, Belmont Wanderers

It was a great challenge to develop a project which is not conceptual but rather pragmatic and achievable as an interdisciplinary group. The process of designing a building and its surrounding by data from various perspectives and disciplines actually showed more than some of the university design units because I find it closer to reality.

Yeldar GulUniversity of Edinburgh

I was impressed with the commitment and team spirit that we saw from all the entrants. A challenge like this is not about winning or losing, the main thing that all the students can take away from it is that they put their egos to one side and learnt what's involved in working together as a team. That is a real-life skill which will be a great help to them, and a great benefit to their employers, in the future.

Mike WhitfieldDirector, Mike Whitfield Construction Ltd

An incredible event showcasing some of the future minds of construction. The quality of submissions was incredibly high and presented by the teams with such great confidence. Given cost was not a main discipline of the competitors, all groups approached the costing component with great consideration providing detailed measures and evidence of costs. Well done all involved.

Michael HughesAssociate Director, Cast Consultancy

The experience has been truly valuable. The Challenge provided a brief aligned most closely with sustainable development in mind, more so than any university will be able to muster. As an Architecture Student, this project has widened my portfolio, given me new experience designing for the sports, education, office and outdoor learning and cooking, sectors. The challenge has given me hands on experience with PHPP, through a practical application, a software otherwise paywalled away.

Kyle HendersonThe Robert Gordon Brown University