Polished to perfection

Berman Guedes Stretton modernises University of Leicester's aging diamond-shaped Engineering Department Workshops

by Sian 03 November 2011


Berman Guedes Stretton has been appointed by the University of Leicester to renovate its engineering department workshops. Designed by Stirling and Gowan in 1959 and considered one of the most significant and influential post war buildings in the UK, it is famous for its sculptural, diamond shaped glazed roof form.

“Rigorous analysis and inventive technical solutions are required to improve the building’s performance” explains Alan Berman, founding partner of the practice who recently published Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy- 3 radical Buildings.

“Over fifty years on, the basic pallette of low cost materials and technology used to achieve the original, radical design has reached the end of its serviceable life. The university now needs to return the building to a good standard of weather tightness and thermal performance, but understands the need to preserve the unique power of the original design.”

Berman Guedes Stretton’s role will be to deal with ‘design intent’, to secure the support of those with an interest within the heritage community, and to participate with the specialist engineers at Arup (who have been invited to play a major role) in developing technical solutions that remain true to the original conception but that allow the building to perform as is expected of buildings today.

From the 24 practices that submitted bids to the university, six were shortlisted and three were selected for interview. Key to the appointment was the practice’s successful working relationship with English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society, developed during the renovation of numerous other listed buildings by other notable 20th Century architects such as Powell and Moya, Ahrends Burton Koralek, Architects Co-Partnership, and Howell Killick Partridge and Amis.

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