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University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, United Kingdom

Thursday 05 Mar 2009

Education in context

University Campus Suffolk by RMJM in Ipswich, United Kingdom
copyright: RMJM 
University Campus Suffolk by RMJM in Ipswich, United Kingdom University Campus Suffolk by RMJM in Ipswich, United Kingdom University Campus Suffolk by RMJM in Ipswich, United Kingdom
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12/01/11 Trevor Atkinson, London
I was excited at having the opportunity to visit the UCS which (externally) looks very impressive indeed and fits in extremely well in its environment. However, internally, it appears that the architects have fallen into the trap of thinking that lecture theatres and teaching rooms have to be windowless, dark, and dismal. The creation of gloomy teaching cells (that would offend a prisoner) seem to be "State of the Art" in terms of new university buildings. This is not the first multi-million pound purpose-built teaching building that almost misses the point of its purpose entirely and I'm sure it won't be the last. I would challenge the architects to sit in any of the internal boxes that they have created, for a two-hour lecture, and see if they have indeed met the most basic challenge of “fit for use”. Don't take my word for it, ask any of the bleary-eyed students. Providing natural light in a teaching room is not distracting to its occupants. It's fundamental.
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Award Entry

RMJM meet difficult challenge in blending iconic new building into its surroundings 

The University Campus Suffolk Waterfront building, designed by RMJM, is the flagship of the UCS urban campus and the first building of the Ipswich Education Quarter. It opened in September 2008. The 10,500m² Waterfront building supports flexible learning with open study on all floors and points where students can access networked computers. The flexible layout, coupled with balconies overlooking one another enables excellent interaction between staff and students. The ground floor contains a reception area with digital screens presenting upcoming lectures and seminars, a large exhibition space as well as public and breakout space, provide an informal meeting focus point for students and academic staff.

For UCS, the aspiration was to create a campus that consists of contemporary and timeless buildings, flexible enough to cope with future changes in teaching and learning, and demonstrably sustainable. Throughout the process the success of the project was measured against the following aspirational adjectives, established by UCS: innovative – bold – flexible – sustainable – student centred – integrated– implementable.

Meeting the UCS aspirations and urban design issues was a major challenge.The design matches the scale of the adjacent waterfront development at seven storeys, then dramatically sweeps down to the two storeys of the medieval buildings on Fore Street. Linking the two different scales is the unique and innovative 20 degree sloping green roof. This provides acoustic insulation, thermal mass, increases bio-diversity, helps retain water to reduce impact on local services infrastructure, and ultimately achieved an excellent BREEAM rating.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)

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