Praised as “fluidly knitting together considerably diverse uses,” the design of the University of Wales, Newport’s new £35 million City Campus has been recognised in the prestigious RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) architectural awards.
Designed by architects BDP, and constructed by Wilmott Dixon, the campus is situated on the banks of the River Usk. Opus worked closely with the design team to ensure that the reinforced concrete structure contributes to the acoustic and thermal performance of the building. The flat slab structure allows free zones for the routing of services around the building. The structure was analysed in a three dimensional model with a finite element analysis of the floor plates.
Commenting on the announcement of the award, the university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Graham Rogers said: “The city can rightly be proud of the building, which the university has always made clear belongs to the people of Newport. As well as being at the heart of the regeneration of Newport and providing economic growth for the region, we can now proudly say that we have one of the best buildings in Wales right here in our city.”
Chris Harding of Architects, BDP added: “It is great news for the university and everyone involved with delivering this amazing building. BDP is very proud of this award and delighted that the City Campus is now recognised for its innovative and creative design.”
Housing sound and television studios, screening theatres, lecture theatres, learning support, exhibition space, teaching studios and academic offices, the design approach is to provide a sociable and convivial environment which fosters interdisciplinary learning, research and outreach.
Constructed on a podium on a tight site, the six storey building is ‘U’ shaped, incorporating a yellow cladding centrepiece known as the ‘hot house’ where academics and researchers can work together.
The external elevations are in a combination of high performance glazing, variable bonded brickwork and horizontal black zinc cladding, topped with a very large curved metal standing seam roof which appears to ‘float’ over the whole building, creating a highly distinctive skyline.
“The building is designed to encourage interdisciplinary working and the cross fertilization of ideas between the three faculties which occupy it” said Chris Harding, adding that the design also optimises the river views.
He said that the whole development is designed to be open and accessible with many shared facilities and a main frontage located on a new waterfront square. “With ground floor exhibition space and a cafe open to the public, the building design is geared to encourage people to enter and see what is happening at the university and possibly take up courses.”