Enso Student Amenity Space

Ekho Studio designed the interiors for Enso, a student accommodation project in Colchester, England, focusing on creating a bright and social space incorporating elements from the city’s historic past and natural surroundings.

  • area / size 3,875 sqft
  • Completed 2023
  • Ekho Studio has completed its first student accommodation amenities project, as the interiors consultancy enters the PBSA market for the first time. The project is a new-build scheme called Enso, located in the heart of Colchester, just minutes from the University of Essex campus.

    The brief for the interior was first to create a bright, airy and light-filled student amenity space on the building’s ground floor, incorporating thoughtfully-designed communal spaces aimed at encouraging social interaction. The amenities needed to promote relaxation and wellbeing and also offer a sense of balance to residents, with co-working spaces for individual study and team collaboration, lounge and seating areas and a gaming area and gym. The second part of the brief was to create the look and feel for the scheme’s 282 student rooms, devising a colour palette that would tie in harmoniously with the amenity concept. The overall design was also to be environmentally low-impact, prioritising materials with strong recycled or recyclable credentials and low-energy manufacture and use.

    For the project concept, the Ekho Studio team took primary inspiration from a sense of place, focusing particularly on Colchester’s rich historic past. The city was known as ‘Camulodunum’ – translated as the ‘Fortress of the War God Camulos’ – during Roman times and was immortalised by Pliny the Elder as Britain’s first recorded settlement and, later, as Britain’s first city and capital. Certain forms and elements from that period remain intact, standing out as a common thread through the city’s history and architecture, from Roman arches to the town’s layered brick walls.

    Ekho Studio took these key visual and architectural elements and used them to formulate a consistent design language for the scheme that translates right across the interior spaces. Simple forms, particularly the ‘arch’ motif, were used horizontally and vertically to create interest, whilst a series of layered vistas add a sense of depth, with repeat patterns, sometimes with a woven form or fringed edge, suggesting the reveal of layers in the old city.

    A second thread is nature, with Colchester and the surrounding countryside full of strong textures and dramatic forms and colours. The colour palette fuses Roman-era references with local natural colours, celebrating earthy and warm tones.

    Design: Ekho Studio
    Building Architect: HNW
    Contractor: Watkins Jones
    Photography: Gunner Gu