Northumbria University City Campus EastEdit profile
The Northumbria University City Campus East project presented the opportunity to make a powerful architectural statement about regeneration, sustainability and the importance of higher education and learning in society. Built on a contained urban site to the east of Newcastle city centre, the sweeping curves of the Law, Business and Design School buildings create striking new landmark buildings and make a confident contribution to the urban fabric of the city. The School of Law and Newcastle Business School come together under one roof in a 16,000m2 convex building containing cellular spaces, lecture theatres, cafés and a mock law court. The 8,000 m2 concave Design School building incorporates machine workshops and specialist teaching spaces for fashion, textiles, art, graphic and web design. The BREEAM excellent project features renewable energy sources, natural ventilation, rain water recycling and more. The stainless steel outer skin of the building not only creates a distinctive form but also reduces solar gain within the building. Design innovation The design is an appropriate and imaginative response to the University’s vision to become one of the world’s leading modern universities. The new buildings incorporate numerous innovations, both on the exterior and the interior. To the East and West a ‘solar veil’ is created by a stainless steel mesh frame. This shades the buildings against 50% of the sun’s radiation and reduces air conditioning, without adversely affecting interior lighting. The mesh panels are attached to the building’s bowstrings and provide optimal shading throughout the day as the sun moves through the sky. To minimise fabrication costs, the angles of the tubes and stainless steel mesh panels create a faceted repeating pattern. This means only a handful of standard components are required. The internal spaces are column-free and the structural spans are placed at the extremes of the building. The deep plan form of the Law and Business School has an inverted 7.5 metre glazed cone lightwell. This penetrates all four floors allowing natural daylight to flood though the centre of the building. At night the lightwell is lit by featured coloured lighting making it a stimulating focal point within the cityscape. The Kalwall to the courtyard elevations provides excellent diffused light which is ideal for a teaching and learning environment, without compromising the thermal properties of the envelope. Design quality The design team was deeply involved in the selection of materials to maximise quality, performance and value. We worked closely with the University, its stakeholders and contractors to create high quality, functional and inspiring learning environments for students, faculty staff and business users. External landscaping has been designed to reduce the impact of the noise from the urban motorway and railway line. We worked closely with the Acoustics engineer to plan spaces that would provide natural ventilation while still suppressing noise levels. Sustainability Rainwater from roofs and surface areas is collected in underground tanks, filtered and re-used to flush toilets. This saves water and the energy normally required to pump mains water to the campus, thus reducing whole life carbon dioxide emissions. Hot water, for use in toilets for hand washing is, in part, heated by the sun. This is achieved by a solar tube hot water system sited on the roof of the Law and Business School Building. We currently believe this system could save up to 4.83 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide emissions going into the atmosphere. Additional sustainability measures include the provision of 160 cycle parking spaces for use by students, staff and visitors. All are monitored by CCTV and showers and lockers are provided in both buildings specifically to encourage the use of bicycles. Cycle lanes within the campus link directly to the cycle lane network on surrounding roads. Embracing the future of education The Northumbria University City Campus East project is a flagship for education, urban renewal and the principles of sustainability. It has successfully transformed a former brownfield site and created striking new landmark buildings which symbolise the confidence with which higher education is embracing the future.