One of the largest timber roofs in the world unifies many activities beneath a single umbrella
RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA West Midlands Award winner 2021
Client of the Year Award, Building of the Year Award
Cullinan Studio for University of Warwick
Contract value: £80m
Cost per m2: £2,400
Arrival at the University of Warwick’s Lord Bhattacharyya Building is marked by a timber lattice roof structure oversailing the entrance doors. Like the soft green landscape and a publicly accessible café that opens into the foyer, it is intended to create the sort of welcoming impression that is unusual in science and technology buildings.
As the home of the National Automotive Innovation Centre, the facility brings together research teams from academia and industry to develop new transport technologies. Among the many challenges was the need to protect the secrecy of car companies’ R&D work while creating shared spaces for collaboration and a feeling of connection within the building. This has been achieved by careful distribution of security lines around the L-shaped plan, and maintaining open spaces for communal activity including a large stepped atrium.
There is a Hollywood glamour to this space, with its long, sweeping curves, generous stairs and daylight filtering through the roof structure and playing over white walls. The material palette is pared down and neutral, keeping the focus on the cars and models on display.
As befits a showcase for pioneering technology, the architecture has an elegance and lightness of touch, with rigorous detailing at every scale. It also has excellent sustainability credentials.
This is where the future of mobility is being invented, a process facilitated in high-tech labs and workshops, and celebrated in theatrical moments like the bridge that carries cars through the atrium to be displayed in a rooftop garden. Reflecting the values and aspirations of its custodians, this building is innovative and above all beautifully crafted.
See the rest of the West Midlands winners here
And all the RIBA Regional Awards here
See other RIBA National Awards 2021 winners, Workplace, here