How arts university has spread its footprint across the city

Social enterprise ClearCompany CIC wants to take over the space formerly occupied by the Open Youth

The former Open building, which has been purchased by Norwich University of the Arts - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

After more than a year empty, the former Open building finally has a new purpose.

The instantly recognisable former banking hall and live music venue has become the latest addition to the ever-growing city campus of Norwich University of the Arts.

But it is not by any means the first prominent Norwich building to have been repurposed by the rapidly-expanding university, which has around 2,300 students.

A map showing NUA's footprint on Norwich

A map showing NUA's footprint on Norwich - Credit: Archant

Over the past decade-and-a-half the former college has gradually added more and more city buildings to its portfolio, as it seeks to accommodate for its growing student numbers and expanding education offering.

Duke Street Building

NUA's building in Duke Street

NUA's building in Duke Street - Credit: Archant

While the university itself dates back to 1845, when it was founded as the Norwich School of Design, its growth across the city really began to gather pace in 2006. 

It was in this year that NUA took on a 19th century building in Duke Street, which was built in 1888 as Norwich School Board. It converted the building to house a lecture theatre, library and seminar rooms.

The Monastery

Norwich society Design Awards 2011. Pictured: Media Centre, Norwich University College of the Arts (

The Monastery building at Norwich University of the Arts - Credit: NUA

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Its next growth came four years later, in 2010, when another former school building in The Monastery was taken on my the university.

The building now houses NUA's games and animations department, as well as media laboratories, workshops and a sound story.

East Garth

Entrance to the renovated East Garth buidling. Photo: Bill Smith

Entrance to the renovated East Garth building - Credit: Bill Smith

In 2012, NUA added a medieval friary, the East Garth building, to its portfolio - leasing the building from local authorities to house its photography studio.

Boardman House

Boardman House in Norwich has been put up for sale

Boardman House, part of Norwich University of the Arts - Credit: Archant

Two years later, it took on Boardman House, another 19th century property in Redwell Street designed by prestige architect Edward Boardman.

The former Sunday School, which was built in 1879, is now home to the university's architecture and interior design studios, along with a film studio and media labs.

Gunton Building and Cavendish House

Cavendish House in Norwich will be home to a new state of the art digital user research lab

Cavendish House, which is part of Norwich University of the Arts - Credit: Archant

In the following years, NUA continued to add new properties to its portfolio, largely within close proximity to its additional sites.

In 2014, it renovated its Gunton Building in St George's Street, before taking over Cavendish House in St Andrews Street the following year - in a £2.1m project.

NUA Halls

The new Norwich University of the Arts hall of residence will open this weekend.

The new Norwich University of the Arts hall of residence, which opened in 2016 - Credit: Archant

Also in 2015, a new accommodation block was built for the school by Alumno in All Saint's Green.

While the property, which provides 225 en-suite bedrooms, is not owned by the university, it has a 25-year agreement in place to exclusively cater to NUA students.

St Andrews House

St Andrews House on St Andrews Street in Norwich which is part of Norwich University of the Arts

St Andrews House on St Andrews Street in Norwich which is part of Norwich University of the Arts - Credit: The Feed

In 2018, the university took over St Andrews House, in St Andrews Street, which was previously part of City College.

The building currently houses the university's students' union and cafe, along with additional media labs, course base rooms and other teaching spaces.

It was in this year that the university's growth came in for national recognition, with NUA winning a prize for its estates strategy at the Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards.

Duke Street Riverside

NUA's newest buildings, the Duke Street Riverside development

NUA's newest buildings, the Duke Street Riverside development - Credit: Archant

But one of its most significant growths was not completed until last year, when a major new-build expansion project was completed.

The multi-million pound expansion saw brand new buildings added to Duke Street in Mary Chapman Court, providing 100 accommodation rooms, a production theatre and acting studios.

Francis House

Francis House, part of Norwich University of the Arts

Francis House, part of Norwich University of the Arts - Credit: Archant

Francis House in Redwell Street provides the university's main administrative base, including its student support services.

However, it is not owned by the university itself - rather it is leased from Mills and Reeve solicitors.

Beechcroft Halls

Beechcroft Halls, NUA's out-of-city accommodation

Beechcroft Halls, NUA's out-of-city accommodation - Credit: Google

Located in Hooper Lane, on the outskirts of the city, Beechcroft Halls is the furthest reaching aspect of NUA's portfolio.

The halls of residence provides 77 rooms and is the oldest of the university's two main accommodation buildings.

While All Saints Green, Beechcroft and Duke Street Riverside are the only accommodation provisions managed by the university itself, students can also select to stay at St Benedict's Gate in the Norwich Lanes or Crown Place in Surrey Street.

Open

Meanwhile, the university's acquisition of the former Open building has been welcomed by civic watchdog the Norwich Society.