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Make Architects blurs ‘study, socialising and work’ for new University of Nottingham building

Make Architects blurs ‘study, socialising and work’ for new University of Nottingham building


Make has completed a new Teaching and Learning Building (TLB) at the University of Nottingham in the UK to help meet the 2020 vision for the university.

Currently ranked 17th in the UK, the university approached Make to raise its international profile and provide a new way of delivering education by creating a flexible space that blurs the boundaries between study, socialising and work.

Capable of accommodating up to 2500 students, the 6,200 mbuilding includes a range of teaching and learning environments from a double height learning hub with a mezzanine for quieter, informal learning and peer mentoring, as well as drop-in desks, shared tables and private study rooms.

Entrances are located to pick up on key pedestrian routes to maximise permeability

There are also reconfigurable teaching rooms, a lecture hall with raked seating and small group discussion rooms. A performing arts space and a number of social learning and breakout areas with views out across the campus complete the building.

David Patterson, lead architect, says: “We designed the Teaching and Learning Building in collaboration with a number of stakeholders including academics and students to ensure it would meet the needs of the users.

The learning hub at the entrance to the building has a mezzanine where students can study and socialise

“It has a flexible framework with column-free floorplates that can be reconfigured by adding or removing internal partitions; generous breakout areas with multiple functions; and movable furniture that lets students and teachers define their own interactive spaces. We also developed standalone teaching modules that could ‘plug into’ vertical and horizontal services, allowing the building to be built in phases, as well as a strategic masterplan for future phased expansion.”

The building can be reconfigured by adding or removing internal partitions

Located at the heart of the university campus and bounded by mature trees, a 20th-century villa and an award-winning 1970s library, the TLB provides a focal point for the campus and a “welcoming nexus” for students as they move across the University’s Learning Quarter.

Connectivity was a key focus of the design, both internally and campus-wide. Entrances are located to pick up on key pedestrian routes to maximise permeability and provide accessibility from 360 degrees. Internally, the routes converge on a central light-filled atrium space—a space for socialising, learning and meeting. The more informal learning and social spaces are located around the perimeter of the building and are designed to promote well-being by offering views of the campus landscape and mature trees.

Internal light filled atrium connects the spaces and provides a focal point

The building takes advantage of the site’s drop in topography to create a double-height Learning Hub and introduce a mezzanine where students can work and socialise. A major cantilever shelters the external space below, which is embedded into the landscape.

Exposed structure and cross laminated timber provides a warm an honest interior

The atrium connects the spaces and provides a central focal point, as well as naturally ventilating the building and drawing in high levels of daylight. Other sustainable measures include a highly thermally efficient envelope with deep-set reveals and high thermal mass to balance heat loss and solar gain.

The building acts as a focal point within is setting

Linda Goodacre, director of estates at the University of Nottingham, says: “Make led stakeholder workshops to successfully deliver our vision, and their construction knowledge and experience produced a rational, highly coordinated building, helping to maximise occupancy, sustainability and flexibility to meet our needs both now and in the future.”

Photography by Martine Hamilton Knight and Make


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