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University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub, Aberdeen

Words:
RIAS Jury

‘Best in class’ teaching hub rethinks the traditional university faculty structure to unite separate science laboratories in Reiach and Hall Architects’ 2024 RIAS Award-winning newbuild for University of Aberdeen

University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight

2024 RIAS Award

University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub, Aberdeen
Reiach and Hall Architects for University of Aberdeen 
Contract value: £20m
GIA: 6,874 m2
Cost per m2: £2,906

The University of Aberdeen’s new Science Teaching Hub enables, promotes and signifies the importance of scientific learning to the university, the city and the wider region. The project brief evolved to gather teaching laboratories from a variety of departments into a singular entity, blowing away the traditional university faculty structure and instead creating a ‘best-in-class’ hub for teaching science. This subtle and precise building honestly expresses its function in a clever and unassuming manner.

Located to the north of the university campus, the new building has been thoughtfully planned to promote science. The more flexible laboratories are located at ground floor to enable additional use by local school children and other non-university groups. The entry sequence deliberately steers arrivals towards a glass wall, beyond which lab work is being undertaken, before continuing into the main atrium space. Once in the atrium, the rhythm of openings reflects the facade and allows views into the labs at each level, without risk of contaminating the work beyond.

  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
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The choice of materials reflects the scientific and clean environment that is demanded in laboratory spaces. Inspired in part by local buildings that date from the Georgian enlightenment period, the Teaching Hub has a sense of quiet and controlled scientific optimism about it. While this calmness is expressed in the facade, on closer examination the rhythm and patterns on the facade cleverly change to reflect the orientation, control solar glare and to respond to the use of the spaces within.

The rationale for each element of the building is carefully considered. For example, the heavily-serviced laboratories are located on the upper level directly adjacent to the top floor plant space, while those requiring less servicing are located at ground level, reducing the extent of service runs and shafts.

  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: Niall Hastie
  • University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
    University of Aberdeen Science Teaching Hub. Credit: broad daylight
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The digitally enhanced lab spaces also allow new teaching pedagogies to exist, which in turn have influenced the architectural response. Large, open-plan spaces have been created as they are more cost-effective to construct, and the spaces can each be subdivided digitally to create three individual classes. The jury was impressed by these seemingly small and precise architectural moves that collectively create an affordable building delivering high quality teaching space for an array of students across numerous faculties.

See the rest of the RIAS winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

Credits

Contractor Robertson Group
Structural engineer Fairhurst
Environmental/M&E engineer RSP Consulting Engineers
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Christine Kappel

 

Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects

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