Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England
An iconic building for the University of the West of England
The £50m Faculty of Business and Law building for the University of the West of England is located in the proposed ‘Heart Zone’ of the Frenchay Campus masterplan.
The 17,000sqm building with accompanying plaza forms the most significant building and external space at the campus and will set the scene for future developments over the coming years, with the key aim to create a facility that students and staff want to stay in before and after formal teaching sessions, encouraging greater interaction between the building users; students, staff and visitors.
There are a wide range of teaching and learning spaces, with small private study rooms, large social learning zones, large café, lecture theatres, Harvard theatres, technology enhanced active learning environments and generous general teaching
rooms furnished with collaborative group working furniture.
Café seating extends through the atrium area and users are encouraged to take their food or drink anywhere in the building that they feel comfortable inhabiting. The new south facing plaza is directly connected to the café facility allowing students to study outside the building under cover.
A 400 seat raked lecture theatre is accessed from the ground floor via a dedicated stair that provides a lower ground floor entrance via a large foyer/holding area with informal seating incorporated. Routes around the theatre have been carefully developed to provide an entrance at the front of the theatre and an exit at the rear of the facility to help mitigate the impact of the hourly movement of students.
The building circulation is obvious and highly visible from the main atrium with a grand stair case linking the various level of the building with the main lift zone located adjacent the stair.
Bridges at every level cross the atrium to provide connections between staff and student zones with breakout meeting and study spaces at every circulation interface on every floor. On the ground floor the space opens up to the ‘Heartzone’ plaza to the south. Key active spaces such as the building reception and café (with social learning areas) provide vibrancy to enliven the space.
The two wings of accommodation contrast to reflect the accommodation uses within and the orientation of the building on the site for environmental purposes.
A key concept for the building was to promote collaboration and this developed into a building that encompasses two distinctive wings of accommodation which enclose a central atrium space that forms the heart of the building and incorporates a variety of social learning and flexible meeting spaces.
The development involved 300 members of staff across 5 departments with student representatives involved throughout the project. The full time project champion ensured all stakeholders were able to express their views and the University community was able to access a blog that recorded progress and decisions.
Photo credit Cora Kwiatkowski.