The future of student accommodation: Take a look around The Dyson Institute’s “five star” undergraduate “pods”

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Nov 28, 2017 · 4 min read
The Clubhouse is a circular hub which will provide a student library, café, screening room and bar | Photography Dyson

The Dyson Institute of Engineering & Technology is unlike any other educational establishment, and its equally unique accommodation and undergraduate facilities are set for completion in September 2018.

‘When it came to developing and designing the spaces for the Dyson Institute, Sir James Dyson wanted to build on the campus-like feel that Malmesbury already exudes,’ explains Chris Wilkinson, the architect responsible for the existing buildings on site.

‘Saying that, James and I are no longer in our youth, so it was important to reach out to the new undergraduate engineers for a little direction! Armed with their suggestions, we set to work on the Dyson Institute buildings.’

78 modular student “pods” will be stacked around a landscaped bund on Dyson’s 56 acre campus in Malmesbury | Photography Dyson

What is the student accommodation like at the Dyson Institute?

From the start of the 2018 academic year, the undergraduate engineers will have the opportunity to live in 78 modular pods stacked up to three high in a cascading layout. Each unit is 4m x 8m, and contains a sleeping and study area, a bathroom and ample storage. Large windows make the most of the stunning Wiltshire views, while the desks are designed by James Dyson.

Is there anything special about the accommodation pods?

Unlike many prefabricated structures that are manufactured as a flat pack for subsequent assembly, these pods will arrive fully built and fitted inside. From the day they are delivered they will take just two days to stack.

They are also made from Cross-laminated timber (CLT), a relatively new construction material that offers exceptional strength. This allows them to be stacked without the need for further supporting structures. External aluminium panels will protect them from the elements, while green roofs will integrate them into the surrounding landscape. The work is being undertaken by a specialist firm in Scotland, as building in three dimensions with CLT on this scale is unprecedented.

Where do the current undergraduate engineers live?

Until the pod accommodation is completed, undergraduates are living in subsidised housing close to the Malmesbury campus. From the start of the 2018 academic year those who want to live on site will have the opportunity to do so.

What new communal facilities will be available for students?

The clubhouse is a two-storey, circular building that will contain a library, café, bar, screening room and shop, giving the undergraduate engineers — along with other Dyson employees — plenty of communal space for working and relaxing. Everything will be run in-house by a dedicated team, with the facilities available around the clock.

Are there sports facilities at the Dyson Institute?

The existing Hangar sports centre contains a gym, kitted out with the latest training equipment, including Wattbikes, an Olympic grade weightlifting area and fitness and cardio machines. It offers 17 different classes, from boxing and high-intensity interval training, to yoga and Pilates. In addition, there’s a sports hall that has tennis, table tennis, basketball, football and badminton facilities. Increasingly Dyson people are setting up clubs for a whole range of activities, including running, mountain biking and touch rugby.

What are the dining facilities like on the campus?

The Lightning and Concorde cafés on site are overseen by Joe Croan, former head chef of Marco Pierre White’s London restaurant L’Escargot. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving a variety of high-quality meals at subsidised prices. There is an emphasis on seasonality and locally sourced ingredients.

Cross section of The Dyson Institute’s new accommodation and student hub | Photography Dyson

Where are the Dyson Institute’s teaching facilities?

Dedicated spaces in Dyson’s RDD buildings have been tailored to the needs of the undergraduate engineers. Connected to our state-of-the-art laboratories and workshops, these rooms have been developed to reflect the diverse needs of a modern approach to teaching and learning. The lecture room is named after James Dyson’s first engineering mentor, the late Jeremy Fry.

Downstairs, a fully-equipped lab space allows the undergraduate engineers to reinforce their academic learning before testing it on live projects and industrial machines. It’s here that the cohort will demonstrate engineering theories in practice.

What technology is used in the learning spaces?

Each group of desks has a 55 inch interactive screen, while a video call-enabled 84 inch interactive screen sits at the front of the room. The screens can be written on, connected to external devices, and controlled remotely by the lecturer.

And to help the undergraduate engineers catch up and revise, the lecture room has video capture technology built in, with every lesson set to be uploaded to a virtual learning environment.

If you wish to reuse any of the images in this article please credit the photographer and Dyson, and for more information contact

Visit The Dyson Institute of Engineering & Technology website to find out how to apply for entry in 2018.


Dyson is a fast growing technology company. Employing thousands of engineers and investing £7 million a week on research and development means we have plenty to talk about. We want to share our most important news, stories, and issues as we develop the future of Dyson.

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Dyson is a fast growing technology company. Employing thousands of engineers and investing £7 million a week on research and development means we have plenty to talk about. We want to share our most important news, stories, and issues as we develop the future of Dyson.

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