Harrison secures partnership to design hotel within UK university

Posted in News on 8 August, 2023

Full service 360 brand design agency secures partnership to design a hotel within the campus of Loughborough University, UK.

Burleigh Court Conference Centre and Hotel, an award-winning conference venue hotel located in the East Midlands on Loughborough University’s campus, has appointed full service 360 brand and design agency, Harrison, as their strategic design partners. The partnership will see Burleigh Court and Harrison work together to create a revitalised and exciting space for families and visitors to the surrounding area.

Burleigh Court Conference Centre and Hotel is located in the heart of Loughborough University, serving as an important hub for the bustling community of 19,500 students, their families and visitors to the campus. Hosting over 55,000 delegates every year, servicing the equivalent of 40,000 bedrooms, and serving over 100,000 meals, it is a space that is worked hard every day. Burleigh Court tasked Harrison with revitalising and bringing a new lease of life to the communal spaces.

Image of Reception within Burleigh Court Conference Centre and Hotel, Loughborough University, UK. All images are renderings

Harrison has developed a design which will create five distinct spaces, all showcasing and celebrating a unique part of the hotel and university’s entwined history:

  • A new F&B space, fit-for-purpose extension, will have capacity to host up to 120 guests as a relaxed eating and drinking space.
  • A modern and sleek conference suite, with the ability to host up to 220 people or be broken into up to five smaller, more intimate conference spaces.
  • A new bar and ‘breakout’ area will be able to serve those using the conference suite.
  • An innovative and stylish reception area.
  • A link-street which will naturally guide guests from the reception area to the main bar.

Bar Lounge

The Harrison team prides itself on thorough research and the ability to pull on creative threads and uncover unique stories, history, and narratives to tell through its designs which create synergy between hotels and their surrounding areas. Burleigh Court is no different, and for this project, Harrison is drawing on inspiration from the surrounding university, incorporating and weaving in design elements inspired by both today’s students alongside notable alumni, and injecting the venue with style directly influenced by the university’s past. There is a particular focus on the Aeronautical and Automotive facilities, incorporating the university’s rich history of engineering into the design of the venue, alongside the School of Design and Creative Arts.  Key design features include:

  • As the university has a strong partnership with Rolls Royce, Harrison is looking to incorporate a recycled tornado fighter jet engine into the reception area and become a showpiece of the venue, catching the eye of guests and visitors.
  • The hotel bar is centred around the idea that most aspects of engineering is based around circles (i.e., wheels, cogs, engines, etc.), including XL industrial doors which slide open and shut.
  • Repurposing 3D print prototypes – such as curved cladding panels and architectural features – from a current project in the School of Civil and Building Engineering into the landscaping of the courtyard.
  • Using artwork created by art graduate students to adorn the walls.
  • Incorporating seemingly ‘normal’ pieces of furniture seeped in the university’s history, such as the old dean’s chair and ‘partners’ desk, where the dean and lecturers used to sit, are just some of the items included in the conference spaces.
  • The university has an abundance of sculptures from notable artists dotted around the campus which serve as a direct source of inspiration for several elements of the refurbishment, including the metal screens for the F&B extension which are inspired by a sculpture sitting just outside the hotel’s boundary.

Business booths

Dean Concannon, Design Director at Harrison, comments: “Burleigh Court is truly uniquely positioned – no other space will have access to the talent, facilities, students, and alumni at Loughborough University that we can tap into today. What’s more, with so many students – both from across the UK and international – there is a real need for exceptional facilities which not only look fantastic but from a practical point of view, they need to be able to cope with incredibly high footfall in order to accommodate parents and guest, visiting faculty, host speakers, and more.

“As designers, we approach new projects with the ambition of being able to find a story, a narrative, a perspective which is unique to that space and potentially previously uncovered. We want there to be synergy across the whole hotel, as well as each space to have its own identity which works for its purpose. It’s no easy feat but one we’re incredibly passionate about.

Extension view

“What is truly fantastic about working with Burleigh Court is the surrounding pool of young, fresh, exciting talent we can tap into and source pieces from. The students at Loughborough University are incredibly talented, and we’re honoured to be able to draw inspiration from them and showcase their skills, alongside drawing on inspirational alumni. Giving the future of art, design, and engineering, the opportunity to get involved and see their work on display and be part of history is exciting and prideful. It’s important to us that we recognise and honour the venue’s history and relationship with the university, and there’s no better way than to utilise the talent and local suppliers within close reach.”

External view

Loughborough University began as a Technical Institute in 1909 but since then has transitioned multiple times, from becoming a munitions factory during World War 1, to merging with Loughborough College of Art and Design in 1998. Construction on the newly refurbished Burleigh Court is set to begin January 2024 and to be completed by late-summer 2024.

About Harrison
Harrison is a global specialist in architecture, interior design, and branding consultancy. The team creates global brands with distinctive spaces, commercially successful brand positioning, and practical and sales optimised interior design. With 34 years’ experience, Harrison has worked on over 6,000 spaces channelling storytelling, creativity, imagination, and a genuine passion for developing unique guest experiences in all they do.

Harrison’s current and previous client list includes Fogo de Chão, Hilton, Harrod’s, HMS Host, Gordon Ramsay North America, Marugame Udon and Nando’s to name just a few.

Harrison has offices in Birmingham, Dallas, and Melbourne, working exclusively in the hospitality and leisure sectors.


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