The New Adelphi, University of Salford


A state of the art home for the School of Arts and Media

Each element blurs the boundaries between inside and out, encouraging uninhibited movement and interaction

Completion of The University of Salford’s New Adelphi building marks a key milestone in the delivery of its development masterplan which consolidates its disparate estate onto a more compact campus. Our vision for the £35m project was to maintain the identity of the individual creative disciplines while facilitating cross collaboration.

The design creates a series of planned and found spaces, visual links, display opportunities and informal gathering places, combined with formal learning spaces, state-of-the-art rehearsal, performance and recording facilities and large open-plan floorplates.

A series of overarching design ideas enabled us to distil the complicated brief and make the building legible for users and visitors. The building form resolves a series of wider urban design issues, in addition to the organisation of the departments within and the ability of individual elements to fulfil a public role. Two diagonal routes through the heart of the building provide permeability, as well as a link from the railway station to the main formal teaching building and the new student residences beyond.

Around these routes, four buildings are arranged as objects, each with an internal and external façade. At lower levels, the spaces between each element intentionally blurs the boundaries between inside and out, encouraging uninhibited movement and interaction that enables creative disciplines to learn from each other. At the upper levels, a two-storey rectilinear box links the objects together.

The contrast between the lower and upper levels of New Adelphi is a further organising device, enabling a distinction between public and private and between technical, specialist spaces. These six metre high spaces allow the University to adapt to changing demand for individual courses through the provision of flexible and moveable furniture and servicing.

The lower floors of the building are of heavy concrete construction, housing a number of acoustically sensitive, specialist and technically complex spaces, including; a 350-seat theatre, a suite of six recording studios, amplified performance studios, instrumental tuition rooms and radio and TV acting suites.

The open plan upper floors are ringed with a dramatic two storey steel truss which supports 16m deep precast floors. Raised access flooring in these vast open plan studio spaces enables complete flexibility of use. There are very few walls, individual courses mark their territory by means of a bespoke, adaptive furniture solution. The space allocation can therefore change as future intakes fluctuate in an uncertain Higher Education market.

At first glance, the building’s skin appears to be homogenous with an underlying vertical patterning, however, there is a horizontal break at the junction of the ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ construction zones which enables the multitude of spaces within the building to be afforded specific levels of glazing.

New Adelphi is an inspirational and exciting development which staff and students have embraced with gusto.