Teaching spaces surrounding lecture theatres support seminars plus macro-and micro-collaboration
FaulknerBrowns & Space Architects for Durham University
Contract value: £25m
Cost per m2: £3,012
Central to the university’s 10-year strategy and masterplan of 2017 was the provision of enhanced teaching and learning facilities to support an increase in student numbers, enable the adoption of new pedagogies, and to create facilities that could be shared by all students rather than be aligned to specific faculties or departments.
This informed the development of a teaching and learning ‘module’, which became the basis for the brief for a new building. The team worked closely with the planning authority, given the building’s size and location adjacent to a conservation area and near a Unesco World Heritage Site. To ensure it integrated sensitively, the three-storey brick-faced volume is broken down into an assemblage of repeated elements that relate better to the grain of the city. Full height glazing gives views of the city’s iconic cathedral.
A top-lit central courtyard forms its social and circulation hub, giving access to the café, lecture theatres, seminar spaces and project rooms. A mix of teaching spaces surrounds lecture theatres, supporting traditional seminars as well as macro-collaboration and micro-collaboration. The vaulted top floor beneath its zinc roof comprises extensive ‘learning commons’ with a range of areas for focused, contemplative, active and collaborative learning.