Faculty of Environment and Technology, UWE

University of the West of England
  • Winner

    Public Sector

    RIBA Town & Country South West 2011

An innovative building for architecture students

A new flagship sustainable building at the University of the West of England, the R block studio extension is primarily used by architecture and product design students but also includes teaching and social spaces for common use by all at UWE including office accommodation, informal learning spaces, a café and conference rooms.

We provided high levels of natural daylight through large areas of solar controlled glazing and louvres. Sustainable materials used include a new prefabricated straw bale cladding panel which encloses a 150- seat lecture space.

Studio facilities include integrated studios for CAD (Computer Aided Design), model-making and drawing, architectural modelling resources including laser cutters, wood, metal and concrete workshops.

There are also facilities for surveying, GIS (Geographical Information System) and spatial analysis, photography, digital imaging, film and sound recording and editing. Students can access digital creative suites – industry-standard video and editing facilities, including the latest design, animation and illustration packages- to bring their projects to life.

A dedicated project room provides space for students to work on individual and group assignments, together with a range of materials and computer/printing equipment.








Innovation and Sustainability

We used a number of innovative methods and materials to deliver an environmentally sustainable building which is used as a teaching tool and an example for the architecture and design students who inhabit it.

We reduced the energy and carbon use through a system that uses recycled chip fat from the university catering facilities to heat the building.

In addition we also installed a ground coupled labyrinth ventilation system for the lecture theatre. This uses a series of ducts buried in the ground utilising the temperature difference to provide cooling or heating to the lecture space.

The building achieved a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating and a WRAP recycled content of 20%.

We used a new tile cladding, made from recycled slate and clay dust, that achieved a recycled material content of 94%. This was the first time the product had been used in the UK. A bio-fuel boiler and rainwater harvesting are also incorporated.