University of Bristol, Life Sciences Building Bristol, UK

Sheppard Robson’s competition-winning design responds to the University’s vision of creating a world-class research and teaching facility which will attract international students and academics. The architectural ambition of the project was to create a building that respects the neighbouring listed buildings and surrounding conservation area whilst also adding a confident piece of contemporary design to Bristol.

The building is arranged in two parallel wings, with the east-facing element housing the office accommodation and responding to the proportion and massing of the adjacent listed buildings. Distinctly different in form, the west-facing wing is designed as an undulating aluminium wall, signifying the cutting-edge laboratory space housed in that part of the building. The two elements of the building are linked by a full height atrium space, which forms the social heart of the building.

Client
  • University of Bristol
Size
13,500 m2
Awards
  • RIBA - Shortlisted
  • Education Estates Awards - Shortlisted

Understanding

The architectural ambition of the project was to create a building that respects the neighboring listed buildings and surrounding conservation area whilst also adding a confident piece of contemporary design to Bristol. Previously located in listed buildings that encouraged siloed departments and offices, the project not only co-locates teams but would encourage dialogue and interaction between, acting as a catalyst for a new, more open academic culture.

Understanding

Design Process

The design team highlighted an opportunity to create a bolder architectural language for the westfacing elevation that acts as a counterpoint to the more traditional east-facing façade. This sinuous wall of natural anodised aluminium covers the external ducts that drop from roof-level plant enclosures down the West façade to supply air to each laboratory.

Moving the ducts to the outside of the building makes reconfiguring the internal modular laboratory spaces easier, allowing the facility to adapt to future requirements.

Design Process

Successes

The building’s architectural presence has been recognised as “the perfect demonstration of the complex scientific activities that take place within” by a prominent architectural critic. Followup sessions with the client and the building’s user have identified that the series of deft design moves of the interior spaces has also led to much more visibility and interaction between departments and academics, with a user commenting on how he now he has many informal, chance encounters which were not possible in a non-purpose built building.

The visual impact of the design has been a beacon for the department, with admissions increasing by 40% since the building’s completion.

Successes

Images

Drawings

Map

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