RIBA Success for the Sibson Building
A new 8,200m² building for the University of Kent’s Business School and School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science has been awarded four RIBA Awards. The building, which is located towards the northern edge of the Canterbury Campus, has been awarded a RIBA South East Award, RIBA South East Project Architect of the Year award, RIBA South East Building of the Year award and a RIBA National Award.
The new building is the largest on campus and is described as a ‘very thoughtful building with a clear architectural concept. Overall, this is an exemplary educational building, embodying creativity with an intelligent and responsible approach.’
The £26m facility, which was created by architects Penoyre & Prasad and main contractors Willmott Dixon, provides a vibrant new campus destination and allows two of the university’s most successful departments to expand and improve their current activities.
Speaking to Premier Construction magazine about the project, Architect and Project Lead, Ian Goodfellow from Penoyre & Prasad said: “Reflecting the two schools apprehension to being co-located, the university envisaged three linked, but separate buildings. Penoyre & Prasad’s competition winning innovation brings the schools together into a single whole; an interconnected hub, with shared learning and teaching at its heart. This offers an enriched learning environment that fosters interaction, collaboration, social exchange and further synergies between the Business and Maths schools.
“William Holford’s 1965 robust masterplan for the parkland campus was conceived as a stem with a series of leaves that would grow over time as the university expanded. A branch to the North West of the center indicated major future development extending beyond the core of the campus. In more recent years this area had begun to be developed, albeit in a piecemeal way with inadequate pedestrian routes back to the heart of the campus. Sibson’s siting, layout and landscaping brings much more coherence to this part of the site, strengthening wider connections and anticipating future development to the North West.
“A concourse at its heart, around which all the principal teaching and learning spaces are arranged, is conceived as a woodland glade with dappled light from above and views out to the surrounding woodland at every turn. From the entrances and café terrace the new main path through the woods connects directly back to the center of the campus and extends to the NW along the terraced flank of the building.”
This new hub of teaching, learning and working brings academics, students, researchers and administrative staff together, creating an environment that actively fosters engagement between the students and staff bodies within the two schools. Lecture theatre, seminar spaces, Bloomberg suite, café and social learning spaces are organised on the ground and first floor around a dramatic top-lit concourse.
The school’s individual receptions and admin areas link directly to upper floors that provide workspaces for academics and post graduate researchers. All spaces enjoy views out into the surrounding woodland. Flexible floorplates to the upper floors allow the two schools to expand or contract depending on need.
Ian added: “The central atrium acts as lungs for the building. Passive measures (natural ventilation, thermal mass and night time cooling) combined with long structural spans and raised access floors proves for long term adaptability and contributes to the building’s BREEAM Excellent rating. The high level of daylighting and views out reduce energy use and promotes well-being.”
Set within a woodland, the building’s form ensures that it is never fully visible from any viewpoint thereby lessening overall visual impact and preserving the majority of trees. At lower floors, viewed between tree trunks, the elevations are highly glazed and welcoming with a café that opens out onto a south facing terrace. At upper floors, seen through tree canopies, elevations of anodized aluminum curtain walling pick up on the tree trunks and dappled light of the surrounding woodland. Vertical fins create deep window reveals to control solar gain while their stagger and colouring approximate the non-linear systems of nature.
“A recently completed post occupancy study shows the building to be performing very well with student satisfaction of facilities and environmental conditions both at 95%,” said Ian.