Rio Architects

Taking advantage of a valley landscape


Mountain Halls Student Accommodation




Architecture, Interiors, Masterplanning & Urban Design, Digital Construction, Visualisation

The Mountain Halls project at the University of South Wales in Treforest is a master plan of five buildings with 476 student bedrooms and a central communal social hub. The accommodation includes standard and deluxe cluster flat bedrooms, including single and double studios.

The project involved the complete replacement of existing 1960s accommodation buildings following a detailed feasibility study, which reviewed the long-term financial and environmental consequences alongside the impact on the end-user experience when comparing retention and refurbishment against demolition and redevelopment.

The University asked that the new residences be designed to meet the diverse needs of students from diverse cultures and nationalities and arranged to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment. The final proposals maximised accessibility, visibility, daylight levels and passive ventilation to enhance the student experience.

Prototype rooms were constructed during the design stages to ensure the specifications were robust and fully adhered to the client’s requirements.

The challenging topography of the steeply sloped Treforest campus, situated on the west face side of the Cynon Valley, demanded careful consideration of the orientation and configuration of each of the blocks to minimise the cut and fill engineering and achieve Part M compliant access.

The natural voids between the buildings and the sloping ground were sculpted to provide for drainage, services, and water attenuation.

Taking advantage of the challenging landscape, we designed an outdoor amphitheatre alongside the central hub for recreation, education, and social activities. This has become an extremely popular feature with students, adding significant value to an otherwise complex and demanding site.

Modern homes in a world heritage setting