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Sheppard Robson to rehome University of Liverpool's School of Environmental Sciences

Above: CGI of SoES at University of Liverpool from Sheppard Robson

Sheppard Robson's design for the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences (SoES) has achieved detailed planning approval from Liverpool City Council.

The project reuses the existing early-1900s Derby and Hartley buildings situated to the north-west of the university campus. The buildings originally housed the School of Zoology, laboratories, two lecture theatres and academic offices. The consented design revives these distinct red brick and stone structures that form a historic part of the University’s estate.

Natalia Maximova, Associate Partner at Sheppard Robson, said:

“Our proposals bring both buildings back to active academic use by sympathetic refurbishment and localised remodelling of the existing structure.

“The objective is not only to fulfil the space requirements of the school, but to also form a world-leading centre with innovative teaching and research facilities. This big step for the school and the university brings together all SoES departments, currently fragmented and dispersed around the campus, and will secure the future of two heritage assets in a prominent location.”

The conversion of the historic buildings into a modern academic environment requires the creation of a new six-storey circulation core. Located on Derby’s western façade, the addition will accommodate passenger and goods lifts, providing wheelchair access across existing split levels. Other extensions, housing plantrooms and extract ducting, will be of smaller scale and adjacent to the Hartley building.

The refurbished buildings will contain a diverse range of teaching and research laboratories, as well as academic offices, tutorial and seminar rooms and break-out spaces. The new state-of-the-art laboratories are designed to enable closer collaboration between research groups as well as students and staff.

The extensions will complement the existing buildings through references in their details – concaved, warmly coloured aluminium panels will reinterpret the feature parapets and arched windows of the Derby and Hartley buildings. Patterned perforation adds depth and interest to the panels, taking inspiration from the core activities of the School of Environmental Sciences such as strata, geology and the ocean.

The entrances along Brownlow Street facing the main campus will be reopened and remodelled to allow for wheelchair access. Internally, a new arrival space will connect the existing buildings via a foyer, featuring social and collaboration areas and display of some of the school’s vast collection of minerals and other scientific objects. Great care will be taken in preserving key historic features such as ornate mosaic floors, internal glazed bricks, balustrades, and stairs. The area around the buildings will be landscaped to create new green areas and a rock garden for outdoor teaching sessions. The service yard and parking will be located to the rear of the buildings.

A viewing gallery over the triple-height teaching laboratory space, formerly a lecture theatre, will showcase the important work of the school, while providing a break-out space as part of a network of social spaces distributed throughout the building.

Sheppard Robson's designs will support the University’s ambition to reduce embodied and operational carbon. A number of measures have been introduced, including the reuse of existing materials on-site such as reclaimed brick, the use of finishes with high recycled content and reduced plastic content, and improving building performance through higher airtightness, increased insulation and new glazing. Comprehensive thermal modelling was undertaken by the team.


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