Early evaluation of the space identified the benefit of removing the internal walls to open up the ground floor foyers and encourage diverse circulation by creating an ‘internal street’. The oversized existing central stair was removed and a bespoke helical staircase was installed. The simplistic design and slow curving ascent provide a new focal point while freeing up landlocked areas on both the ground and first floors as well as creating a central linking element that supports the new circulation routes through the open-plan arrangement to the existing theatre above.
Links with the external thoroughfare are created with the introduction of full-height windows to the front elevation that allows deep light penetration and visual connectivity. The additions are sympathetic to the existing building, maintaining the horizontal window pattern at a larger scale. As a result, the once isolated internal spaces encourage and welcome the campus community to use the facilities within.
The aesthetic design was inspired by the theatre, utilising moveable screens, stage-style lighting and ceiling rigs, exposed services and rustic finishes. The finished scheme is inviting and accessible, the open-plan arrangement promoting good visibility through the spaces. The screening and contrasting finishes help to define the spaces and control noise levels. The ‘internal street’ links all areas and provides a fluid physical and visual connection.
The accommodation includes bookable meeting rooms, a green room area, open and group learning clusters, quiet study areas, social activity areas, service areas and a new theatre box office located on the first floor.
Project timescale – March 2017 completion February 2018.