The Adrian Cadbury Student Union Building, Aston University

Design & Build

This project saw Clegg appointed by Aston University to undertake the design and construction of a new Student Union building – The Adrian Cadbury Building - which would be situated in the heart of the University campus.

Following its opening in 2019, the new and highly improved students’ union jumped from bottom of a 22-strong list of campus services rated by students to third. It also saw a significant jump in satisfaction in the 2019 National Student Survey.


The two-storey steel framed building has a striking full-height atrium and features a range of facilities including a café, bar-restaurant, social spaces, prayer rooms and washing facilities, a games area, media room, multi-exhibition rehearsal space, office space for key staff, and multi-shared toilets are also a part of this build. The interior of the building is very modern and maximises the use of natural light.


The project’s location on a busy university campus surrounded by halls of residences, teaching buildings, a Multi-Use Games Area, small lake, and a conference centre made for a logistically-challenging scheme.

Throughout the project, Clegg maintained close contact with a dedicated point of contact at the university, who kept key university personnel and nearby buildings informed on the progress of works, taking into consideration key examination periods and events taking place on campus, and altering the programme as necessary to minimise disruption. 30 meters of heating system works to site were completed at night and plated by day to further reduce inconvenience.

All working areas were clearly segregated and temporary pedestrian walkways created to help ensure the safety of students, staff, and campus visitors.


Sustainability is a key factor of this building, which covers district heating, use of sustainable timbers, and over 100 photovoltaic panels. This is reflected in the building’s A-rated Energy Performance Certificate.

As part of our scope, we designed and installed a commercial kitchen, cold and freezer walk-in rooms, and coordinated all services including drainage, water, gas, electric, fire alarm and ventilation. Hot water is provided by Birmingham District Energy Company to heat exchangers in the plant room.

Ducted ventilation systems incorporate heat recovery, providing supply and extract to performance/activity halls, common areas, offices, and meeting rooms.

A ventilation sock solution was also used to supply fresh air to the activity hall, which was co-ordinated alongside the installation of stage lighting and audio equipment.

LED light fitting and access control systems featured throughout the building, alongside a bespoke digital signage installation that was coordinated with interior designs, data and power.


Student involvement in the project was key to ensuring the new building reflected the needs of a diverse and modern student body. Students’ union officers met university staff, the architects and contractors monthly as part of a project team. A 3D visualisation of the space was posted on YouTube for other students to see, with regular updates about the building posted on both the University’s and Clegg Construction’s social media profiles.

Since its construction, this striking, multi-purpose building has also been used for wider community activities, including hosting BBC Radio Four’s Question Time, public talks and debates for Birmingham’s IKON gallery, and it has also been used been used as a venue for National Citizen Service.

In 2020, the building was announced the winner of The Guardian’s ‘Buildings that Inspire’ university award.

Community Engagement

Throughout the project, we enjoyed a high degree of engagement with the wider community, including a site tour held for students from the nearby Birmingham City University, as well as the burial of a time capsule due to be unearthed in 2068.