Kent’€™s new home for business

The University of Kent is investing in a new £20m campus facility for two of its major academic departments

Planning permission has been achieved for an 8,100 sqm new home for University of Kent’s business school (KBS) and school of mathematics, statistics and actuarial science (SMSAS). Located towards the northern edge of the Canterbury campus, the £20m facility will create a new campus destination and allow two of the university’s departments to expand and improve their current activities.

The Penoyre and Prasad-led design team was selected by the university in June 2013 in competition with Wilkinson Eyre, BDP, David Morley Architects and ADP. 

John Morley, head of capital projects, said: “This project represents a significant investment by the University of Kent to bring together academics, students, researchers and administration staff from two departments into one building. Penoyre and Prasad have worked closely with the stakeholders to develop the university’s vision, providing a design that will allow interaction and collaboration and support ongoing and successful growth by the business and mathematics departments. An inspirational student experience is one of our main priorities as a university and this landmark new academic building will help us build on our position as one of the UK’s top 20 universities, with one of the highest student satisfaction scores in the country.”

Lecture theatres, seminar spaces, Bloomberg suite, café and social learning spaces are organised on ground and first floor around a top-lit concourse. The schools’ 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.

Set within woodland, the building’s form ensures that it is never fully visible from any viewpoint, thereby lessening overall visual impact. At lower floors, viewed between tree trunks, the elevations are highly glazed with a café that opens out onto a south-facing terrace. At upper floors, seen through tree canopies, elevations of anodised aluminium 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.

Designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, a series of interventions integrate the building into the campus and the ecology, including new cycle and pedestrian pathways and green roofs that help increase biodiversity. Passive measures of natural ventilation with thermal mass and night-time cooling are prioritised over active measures. Extensive roof-mounted photovoltaic panels provide in excess of 10 per cent renewable energy. The project is due for completion in 2016.

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