Students wow real estate developer with concepts for Peak Gateway

Students take part in a live brief as part of their study to deliver architectural and environmental concepts for real estate developer Milligan. 

University of Derby students studying on Degree and Masters level programmes have worked with Milligan to create inspiring architectural and environmental concepts that explore the future vision for the Gateway component at Birchall Properties’ PEAK gateway resort development located on the eastern boundary of the Peak District National Park to the west of Chesterfield. 

What is the Gateway? 

The Gateway will be an exemplar for sustainable tourism and the built environment.  The Gateway offers parking outside the National Park with zero carbon connectivity into the National Park.  Like a ski resort the Gateway combines the transport hub with a dynamic experiential retail and hospitality environment.   

The design brief for the project focused on the Gateway area of the PEAK development, a transport hub with leisure and commercial facilities with the additional challenge of crafting a complementary active outdoor space. The brief provided the students with the freedom to develop concepts that would reflect individuality in terms of size, shape and character. 

Bringing the visions to life

The students were asked to consider local communities, wildlife preservation, sustainable design with a Net Zero Carbon objective, and respectfully incorporate the Peak District’s natural beauty into their designs 

The students worked in teams drawing on individual strengths and responded to the brief with four unique concepts that offered a broad spectrum of options for the developers to consider. 

Dr Boris Ceranic, Course Director for Masters Programmes and Centre of Excellence Leader at the University of Derby, said:

“I was impressed by the quality of the work and particularly pleased by the way our undergraduate and Masters students worked together as a team to deliver such complex and demanding design charrette briefs.  The designs were inspiring, with highly sustainable and distinctive visions of unique visitor experiences, resolved through proposals that blurred the boundaries between the open and enclosed, solid and transparent, static and fluid, natural and built environment.” 

University Lecturer Graham Markwell added: “This live project has allowed us to work with industry partners to deliver a high-quality experiential learning initiative. The students have produced innovative solutions to the brief provided and have greatly benefitted from interacting with professional clients and real-world projects.” 

Fresh new talent 

After all the proposals were submitted, the Milligan development shortlisted four finalists who were awarded a share of £1,000. 

For Milligan the project was a great way of not only accessing some fresh thinking for the development but also inspiring the next generation of creative talent within the industry.  

Gary Dawson, second year student on the BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Venue Design programme, talks about the project and the valuable experience it provided:

“We really enjoyed working on the project, being able to apply our creative skills to a public space of the future was fantastic and gave a real sense of how we will apply the skills we are learning in future careers. Having the opportunity to push ourselves and see what we can accomplish, in the limited time we had, helped us all begin to realise what we are capable of achieving and what our futures might be like.” 

Paul Hanegraaf, Creative Director at Milligan, notes: “I was blown away by the quality and thought put into each submission – especially as the students had little under a week to prepare.  

“We have been developing the plans for the Gateway at PEAK for some time and will soon be announcing the architect we have appointed before revealing their plans later in the year.  

“It’s wonderful to have input and inspiration from the next generation of designers, planners and architects, after all, it is that generation we’re building this inspiring place for.” 

Impressing the experts  

Rupert Carr, Director of Birchall Properties, adds: “I was delighted with the quality and the quantity of the work produced by the students in such a short period of time. It was nothing less than remarkable and I was genuinely uplifted by the thinking and consideration behind the concepts the students shared.  

“Of particular note for me was the way all teams expressed real enthusiasm for, and belief in, the potential for a better built environment, one with an underlying philosophy to deliver social and environmental benefits, as well as great commercial opportunities”. 

The Gateway at PEAK is part of PEAK Resort, where works for the all-weather, all-year, all-ages Summit at PEAK, are already underway, planning for opening in Spring 2021. PEAK Resort also has planning permission for up to 2,000 hotel rooms and 250 lodges, as well as a whole range of leisure, education and entertainment facilities, attracting investment and creating employment opportunities. 

Find out more about the PEAK plans