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City Centre Campus, University of Wales, Newport, United Kingdom

Thursday 04 Aug 2011

The ripple effect

© Martine Hamilton Knight 
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Glazed volume for University of Wales to create new visual identity for Newport region 

The University of Wales, Newport commissioned a masterplan to create a new campus for the schools of Art, Media, Design, Business and Technology on the waterfront in the heart of Newport. The University’s vision was to create a new learning quarter integrated with the city centre. The new buildings create a new visual identity, and an inspirational place for learning. The new campus has achieved a 14.5% improvement on Part L and BREEAM Excellent without heavy investment in low or zero carbon technologies.

The main entrance is from the new piazza beside the dramatic masts of the pedestrian bridge. This will form the new civic heart of the city, re-engaging the existing city centre with the river. Upon arrival visitors enjoy views along and upwards to the ‘heart space’ of the building. A ‘meet and greet’ desk is situated within the foyer to act as a control and welcome point. A generous cascading stair leads up to the ‘learning resource’ terraces which form a stepped plateau above the suite of lecture theatres and technical teaching space at ground level.

Access to this suite of lecture rooms is via a glazed exhibition ‘passeggiata’ running along the west side of the building parallel to and looking over the new ‘tree-lined’ Usk way. This ‘passeggiata’ creates an exhibition space suitable for a variety of displays to showcase both the work of the University and to host external exhibitions. An important aim of the design is to allow passers-by to see into the building and to experience the creative buzz of University life. The main performing arts studio also opens out onto a new ‘public’ space which can be used for external theatre performances on the waterfront. The ‘passeggiata’ also leads out onto this external riverside space forming a both a second entrance to the building as well as linking to the ‘technical’ areas within the podium.

Materials have been selected to give identity and legibility to the three distinct vertical zones of the building. The podium is clad in blue brick with random bonding to create pattern and texture. The plateau and winter gardens are glazed to promote openness and visual transparency between inside and outside and the upper level studios are wrapped in horizontally seamed black zinc. The ‘Hot House’ is clad in mustard yellow random patterned wooden battens giving emphasis to the spiritual focus of the building. The over sailing roof creates a distinctive identity for the building in the city skyline. The roof soffit is lined in Oregon pine battens to provide a warm canopy and the acoustic absorption necessary for open collaborative learning environments.

The project was successfully completed within time and budget and represents outstanding value for money. The scheme has delivered 12,500 sq m of state-of-the-art accommodation, successfully achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating. The outurn construction cost was £25,272,916 excluding site preparation and novation fees, equating to £2030 sq m.

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