Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)
An iconic building for the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
The £50m Faculty of Business and Law building for the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) 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 300 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 levels 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.
Primarily a hard-landscape scheme, Frenchay Square is a flexible-use space that caters for events, pedestrian circulation and cycle lanes, with seating areas and a grove of semi-mature trees.
The key concept for Frenchay Square was to unify the existing campus with the Students’ Union building and the Faculty of Business and Law building (Bristol Business School), enhancing the cycle and pedestrian access, whilst creating a new character for the external spaces.
Natural stone and high quality concrete setts instil a sense of arrival and inspire civic pride, with the character unified by a consistent design that is reinforced through repeat detailing.
A unique pattern has been arranged to reflect the campus identity, with the campus bar code used as a design feature, with the ‘black & white’ banding providing the inspiration behind the striped paving pattern that has become a defining feature of the works.
To provide maximum impact throughout the whole academic year, planting design required an emphasis on drought tolerant species and sensitive combinations which complement. With good planting design, maintenance can be reduced, leaving plants to grow to their full size. Substantial tree planting was proposed relating to the scale and size of the development, particularly in areas with sunnier aspect.
Ninety semi-mature trees were hand selected at Lorenz von Ehren tree nursey in Germany. They were tagged in September, before being lifted and transported to UWE in December and January.
The visit to the nursery allowed for the specific requirements and characteristics of the tree species to be assessed on the functions and uniformity that they were expected to perform in such an important location for the campus.