The beauty of balance

13 Oct 2011

Green-hued Faculty of Engineering concept by BM3 Architecture shortlisted in competition for University of Cyprus

BM3 Architecture was recently shortlisted for an international competition for a new Faculty of Engineering at the University of Cyprus. The brief for this project was to produce a sustainable masterplan for the University with opportunity for future expansion. This involved designing several buildings that include a Structural & Earthquake Engineering Laboratory, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), Deanery & Common Space, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) and Department of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering (MME).

To achieve the objectives of the brief it was decided that the departments MME, ECE and CEE should focus on a communal central space which will contain the Deanery, common use spaces and Department of Architecture spaces at the heart of the faculty. The main entrances to each department will be from this central space. Users will converge in this space encouraging interaction and creating a focal point for all departments. Secondary entrances from the east and the west will create links with the rest of the campus. An open space at the centre of the site allows for good air movement and daylight penetration as well as opening up views of the Aronas Mountain and the Athalassa Forest. The circulation spaces in the square between departments are complemented by outdoor teaching and social spaces.

Having divided the faculty into separate buildings it is vital that it still reads as a whole. The laboratory wings are generally single aspect and face north-south with the corridor on the south side. The external walls to the corridors are largely glazed, and therefore naturally-lit, protected from solar gain by horizontal louvers. The labs are relatively shallow in plan allowing for good day lighting and natural ventilation when required. East and west elevations have horizontal and vertical shading to control a range of sun angles. The inclined elevations around the faculty square also help to enclose the space and connection between the department buildings.

The Structural and Earthquake Engineering Laboratory is designed as a landmark building on the southern elevation denoting the gateway into the site, with cladding giving the appearance of ‘cracks’ synonymous with its function. Similar materials have been used on each department building for unity. The elevations are largely glazed. This was a key objective avoiding the need for artificial lighting and providing good views out improving the working environment and views in adding to the activity of the spaces around the faculty. Other main facing materials are a fractal patterned aluminium cladding and fair faced concrete. The aluminium will have a matt finish avoiding glare issues.

Throughout the Faculty the colour green has been used. It has been a considered choice not just in its appropriate aesthetic qualities when set against the steel grey of the bare face concrete, but also in its mood-enhancing properties. Green is associated with tranquillity and balance and also represents nature and harmony.

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