Berman Guedes Stretton (BGS) has completed a new 6250m2 state-of-the-art teaching and research facility at University of Wolverhampton. A partial demolition and extension to the existing science building has provided a contemporary home for the university’s growing chemistry courses, while freeing up space on the new South Campus for various uses. The architect’s designs have delivered an additional three 90-person teaching laboratories, three 60-person project laboratories and a suite of research laboratories with the necessary support facilities.
Bronze anodised aluminium vertical louvres provide light diffusion
Externally, the five-storey building defines one edge of the University’s South Campus courtyard and provides a public front. Some of the original brickwork on the east and south facades have been combined with floor to ceiling curtain walling to create a new distinct front for the building. Above ground floor, bronze anodised aluminium vertical louvres provide sun screening and light diffusion, while emphasising the four large windows which have been retained on the east façade.
The public-facing entrance has been refurbished
The Art Deco entrance to an existing, neighbouring building has been refurbished and is now the new main entrance to the large south campus courtyard area, leading to the Rosalind Franklin Building reception.
Space planning within the building has been carefully and efficiently organised by maintaining a ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ corridor separation between teaching and research support spaces, for both safety of students and to create a distinct research suite. The large capacity laboratories required separate entrances and exits to facilitate the throughput of students at changeover times and to segregate students from back-up services. Spaces to gather at laboratory entrances limit the overall space required for lobby areas, making for an efficient building footprint. Additionally, because of the large number of students, each laboratory has its own dedicated store to allow rapid change over of teaching apparatus between lessons. All labs have been equipped with individual desk-mounted tablets for enhanced learning.
Teaching spaces benefit from floor to ceiling windows
A special schools laboratory has been created at ground floor as part of the University’s outreach programme. The entirely reconfigurable teaching space is designed to connect with schools and local industry, thus bringing science out from behind closed doors and into the public realm. With uninterrupted floor to ceiling glazed walls, the lab also acts as a ‘shop window’ giving community members an insight into the University’s science teaching capabilities.
Gary Collins, from BGS, said: ”The building presented an opportunity to reconnect the University of Wolverhampton with the city through the reintroduction of a campus entrance to Stafford Street. The contemporary glazed façade enhances connection with the public through ‘shop window-style’ engagement. Given the complex space planning, circulation and building services within, we are pleased how these have integrated quietly into the final building form. We are also delighted how well received the building has been locally.”