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Future Cities Forum Summer Awards 2024 - University Buildings shortlist



UAL London College of Fashion on right of new V&A East at Stratford, east London - image courtesy of Allies and Morrison


Future Cities Forum is releasing its Summer Awards 2024 shortlist in the 'university buildings' sector. The projects to be judged by our all-female panel are the London College of Fashion (UAL) at Stratford designed by Allies & Morrison collaborating with consulting engineers Buro Happold, University of Glasgow's Advanced Research Centre, designed by HOK, and Wright & Wright's master-plan for St John's College Oxford, which includes the creation of a new library and study centre, along with the restoration of the Laudian Library, and Canterbury Quadrangle.


UAL's London College of Fashion, Stratford (Allies & Morrison with Buro Happold)


Allies & Morrison has commented:


'This new home for UAL's London College of Fashion is conceived as a 21st century workshop; its design inspired by 19th century mill buildings common to many industrial cities. It is outwardly simple, unpretentious and robust while capable of containing multiple complex and process-driven internal arrangements that are continually adaptable to change. Bringing together an institution that up until recently was operating in six sites across London, this move represents the first time that all of its departments co-locate together under one roof. Now occupied by 5,000 students and faculty, the building is one of the largest dedicated to the study and research of fashion in the world and forms a key piece of the cultural quarter of East Bank.


Above: entrance to the London College of Fashion at Stratford (image courtesy Buro Happold)


'The building operates like a vertical campus bringing together a diverse range of functions and typologies across 17 floors. Needing to accommodate, and be appropriately scaled, for both individual work and larger group activities and fully exploit the benefits of bringing all departments together, the circulation and shared spaces at the heart of the building’s organisation were designed to actively encourage planned and incidental interaction, exploration and a sense of shared identity. Square in plan, the building’s structural stability derives from a simple rectilinear column grid that delineates a central circulation route.


'The material palette is simple and muted – concrete, timber, black metal – with a consistency of detailing to all elements that, while complex and rigorous, enables the informal character of students and their activities to take centre stage.


'Each of the three materials performs a distinct function: Concrete is the robust structural skeleton, timber (a warm maple) provides the tactile elements of the building (doors, screens, balustrades, fixed furniture, handrails), and dark metal accommodates services (power, information, drainage).'



ARC Building, University of Glasgow (HOK)


Architectural practice HOK has stated:


'The high-tech Advanced Research Centre (ARC) building houses 500 multidisciplinary researchers and serves as a centre-piece of the University’s new campus development in Glasgow, Scotland.


'This is the first time the University has attempted to collocate such a diverse mix of interdisciplinary researchers in one building. Researchers come from all four of the University’s colleges: Social Sciences, Arts, Science and Engineering, and Medical/Veterinary and Life Sciences. The plan allows for maximum flexibility and transparency between these disciplines.



Image of ARC building University of Glasgow - courtesy of HOK


'HOK’s design expresses the research activities taking place inside the ARC while drawing inspiration from the University’s existing campus and masterplan and Glasgow’s historic buildings.


'The ARC forms the west side of a new square within the expanded campus. A public route moves through the building at the entry level, connecting the new University square to the West End community. This permeable streetscape displays the internal activities of the ARC to the outside world, supporting the University’s intention to be transparent in its community.

In addition to flexible wet and dry lab spaces, the design provides a mixture of event, social, structured and informal meeting areas that are flexible to change along with the University’s future needs.


'A large, daylight-filled central atrium includes a café and multipurpose engagement space. It includes exhibition spaces to display research, a custom-built space for immersive technologies (VR/AR) and seminar spaces.


'These shared facilities enhance opportunities for collaboration, interaction and communication intended to spark imagination and lead to new discoveries.'



Image: Wright & Wright Co-founder Sandy Wright standing in Canterbury Quad describing the St John's College masterplan to Future Cities Forum guests - Oxford, September 2023


New Library & Study Centre, St John's College, Oxford (Wright & Wright Architects)


Wright & Wright has described the practice's approach:


'The masterplan for St John’s College, Oxford, encompassed three key phases, beginning with the interconnection of historic areas of the site with what would become the new Library & Study Centre in Phase II. 


'Finally, for the third and final phase of the decade-long project, the 16th century Old and Laudian Libraries were restored and the 17th century Canterbury Quadrangle was completely refurbished. With this work, involving the complex technicalities of replacing existing stonework, the College’s set piece space was revitalised,


'For over 40 years, St John’s College had been looking for a way to extend its historic Laudian Library in Canterbury Quadrangle.  Wright & Wright's new Study Centre and Archive resolved this conundrum.  Balanced in scale, faced in stone sumptuously modelled by artist Susannah Heron, it sits discreetly behind a 17th-century wall in the President’s Garden, connected with Canterbury Quad but also read autonomously as a new building in its own right.


'Housing the College’s world-class Special Collections and containing 120 reader desks, the new Study Centre creates an active connection between Canterbury Quad and the more modern elements of the College, strengthening links between different eras.  The site in the President’s Garden was chosen as it had the least impact on existing surroundings and landscape, while enabling library resources to be consolidated in a single location in strictly environmentally controlled conditions.



Above: President's garden view of the new St John's College Oxford library and study centre (Hufton + Crow for Wright & Wright Architects)


'Set along the east edge of the garden, the Study Centre is accessed by the Otranto Passage, a long, thin corridor now refurbished to create a new route through Canterbury Quad. Conceived as series of overlapping planes of masonry and glass, the Study Centre resembles a stone casket, with a complex section and thick-skinned walls that sculpt and moderate light, giving each space a distinct character.


'Poetry is combined with pragmatism, as the building incorporates a number of environmental control measures designed to reduce its energy consumption, such as a high thermal mass, heating provided by water from ground source boreholes and photovoltaic panels. Such measures are designed to fully offset the building’s carbon emissions to achieve a carbon neutral status.'




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