Photography: Gunner Gu
Building Architect: HNW
Interior Designer: Ekho Studio
Main Contractor: Watkins Jones
Ekho Studio, the innovative interiors consultancy, has ventured into the Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market with its latest project, Enso, situated in Colchester. This marks Ekho Studio’s maiden entry into student housing, collaborating with Moorfield, a prominent UK real estate fund manager, and project developer Melberry.
Creating a Vibrant Student Amenity Space
Enso’s ground floor was designed to be a bright, airy, and light-filled student amenity space, promoting social interaction and well-being. Incorporating co-working spaces, lounges, gaming areas, and a gym, the interiors aim to strike a balance between relaxation and productivity. The design draws inspiration from Colchester’s rich Roman history, incorporating elements like Roman arches and layered vistas to create a consistent design language.
Design Concept – A Journey Through History and Nature
The design concept revolves around Colchester’s history as ‘Camulodunum’ during Roman times. Ekho Studio uses key visual and architectural elements, such as arch motifs and layered vistas, to weave a design narrative that reflects the city’s historical layers. Nature plays a significant role, with a color palette inspired by Roman-era references and the natural hues of Colchester’s surroundings.
Collaboration and Branding
Collaborating with branding agency J2, Ekho Studio integrates the Enso branding, featuring a lowercase ‘enso’ with an ‘n’ resembling the arch motif. The branding extends beyond logos, with the ‘n’ used as a playful standalone art feature throughout the scheme. Artwork and planting selected by Rachel Withey enhance the overall aesthetic, adding a graphic layer to the design.
Space Planning for Optimal Flow
Ekho Studio’s involvement in the project before construction allowed for strategic alterations to the space plan. The placement of external doors, the relocation of the reception, and the integration of outdoor gym equipment were among the adjustments made to optimize flow and usage of space.
Enso prioritizes sustainability with the use of recycled and sustainably sourced materials, air-filtering plants, living walls, and energy-efficient manufacturing. The scheme boasts recycled wallpapers, water-based paint finishes, cork joinery, and other eco-friendly elements, aligning with the commitment to environmental consciousness.
Design Walk Through – A Visual Journey
Entering the ground floor amenity space, students are greeted by the Enso branding, immediately establishing a biophilic connection. The dominant colors, blue and terracotta, are introduced, with playful arch shapes incorporated in various forms. The teapoint, co-working space, and gaming area each feature unique design elements, creating distinct zones within the amenity space.
Enso, Colchester, stands as a testament to Ekho Studio’s creative prowess in merging historical inspiration with modern student living. The innovative design, sustainable practices, and thoughtful space planning contribute to a vibrant and functional student accommodation space that echoes the essence of Colchester’s rich history.