The importance of being Ernest: new Durham student accommodation takes designer digs to the next level

Durham’s Ernest Place is set to open this September, revealing premium, design-led accommodation for the city’s students.

Sleek yet bold, the latest offering from student accommodation and lifestyle provide Collegiate AC is guaranteed to turn a few heads.

Heriberto Cuanalo, CEO, Collegiate AC said:

“Ernest Place is the first site in our Prestige Collection. We’re already known for our superb features and outstanding design, so this development really had to take that to the next level. The result is an incredibly luxurious site with a sophisticated scheme and some bold elements for added surprise.”

We hear from Collegiate AC’s interior design team about their vision for Ernest Place and what makes this the perfect home for Durham’s 2017/18 student community.

How does this new site differ from other sites in Durham? What sets it apart?

As the first Collegiate AC Prestige site, we knew that Ernest Place had to stand out not just from student accommodation in Durham but from sites across the UK. We’ve packed the site with first-class features: students can benefit from private dinner party rooms, an on-site cinema, a sauna, study zones, a private fitness centre and two big lounges, one of which is the glass-walled Sky Lounge with roof terrace on the top floor.

Can you explain how the bedrooms are tailor made for students from a design point of view?

We used bespoke furniture to fit in the room, so that there is no wasted space. All items are tailored to suit students’ needs – we sought to provide a place where they can rest, work, socialize, cook, eat, and entertain themselves. The en-suite shower rooms, flat screen TVs, double beds and overall luxurious finish also serve to make this scheme unique.

What are the storage solutions used in the bedrooms? 

We’ve implemented various storage solutions to suit students’ different needs. There are shelving units and drawers in the bedrooms, both wall hung and integrated in fitted furniture. These come in several sizes, to house different types of items. We also made space for a double wardrobe, extra storage underneath the bed and kitchen units in the studio apartments.

How are the in-bedroom work areas designed?

We’ve tended to opt for spacious desks with integrated storage, as well as the ubiquitous Collegiate oversized pin board!

The Sky Lounge is an incredible communal space; can you talk us through the vision here and how you achieved it?

The Sky Lounge is a place where students can chill out during the day and especially in the evening, inviting friends and partying if the mood takes them. There is a massive bar, which we highlighted with bespoke brass light fittings above.

We also played with a mix of loose and fixed furniture, a semi-private dining area and see-through screens at the back of the bar, which is in the middle of the room. The colour scheme is dark and moody, offering a contrast to the residents’ lounge on the ground floor, which has more of a daytime, welcoming feeling.

The external terrace area will be great for students. How have you designed it to be attractive and functional yet weather resistant and durable?

It was certainly a challenge! In the end we went with the concept of an outdoor bar, so that the space is durable and practical. We then introduced fixed lighting on the floor and decorative elements to create the right mood.

Can you talk us through the design of the communal kitchens?

We wanted the communal kitchens to be similar to the ones the students have in their own studios, so that they can still feel at home. At the same time, we wanted to give them something different, so we played with finishes and colours to create new and exciting elements.

The common room looks like a warm and welcoming space; can you share how you achieved this look and feel?

We wanted to create a really homely and cost space, so we used warm colours, with plenty of timber and warm metals like brass and copper. We also had fun playing with textures and materials and mixing loose and fixed seating to create a room that has really broad appeal. Our goal was to provide a space where everyone can feel welcome and relaxed.