University of Hertfordshire, The New Science Building Hatfield, UK
The 9,000m2 New Science Building occupies a prominent site at the heart of the University of Hertfordshire’s College Lane Campus, Hatfield. A major element of the university’s 2020 Vision, the building has been designed as a simple orthogonal structure that is derived from the cellular grid of the flexible laboratory spaces within.
Whilst optimised internally, the external envelope has been carefully finessed and tuned to signal the arrival of a major new facility at the university: a distinctive cladding system animates the building, whilst also helping the structure achieve BREEAM Excellent.
Fins – made from expanded aluminium mesh – wrap around the three solar exposed elevations of the five-storey building and act as a veil, unifying the architectural form of the structure. The regular, vertical elements allow the internal spaces to be easily and flexibly reconfigured, whilst also covering the extensive plant on the upper floor, which is required for creating the carefully controlled internal spaces required. The façade design boosts the sustainable credentials of the project by providing solar shading whilst allowing natural light to penetrate through into the deep floorplates.
Further animating the façade, the fins change direction depending on the type of internal space, with the lab areas ranging from 300m2 teaching spaces to more focused, specialist environments. This is a subtle variation, but when the building is viewed in bright conditions or illuminated at night, it brings a richness of depth and variation to the façade.
Cutaways from the regular shape of the building work to articulate the position of the entrance and this key access point is further emphasised by a high-level terrace above. This main entrance will align with a new prominent route through the campus, with a new vista visually connecting the building with a major new student residential development and new public space.
- University of Hertfordshire
- 9,000 m2
- AJ Architecture Awards - Shortlisted
The New Science Building is a major project in a period of significant investment for the University. The building and the adjacent newly planned public realm are a statement of the educational institution’s ambitions.
Whilst the brief called for a marker of the campus’ progress, the building also had to provide state-of-the-art laboratory facilities in an efficient and carefully considered way.
This building form is derived from a cellular 3.3m planning grid based on back to back laboratory benching arrangements. This
provides adaptable laboratory spaces and the grid guides the design of the building and the carefully controlled spaces within.
The exterior of the building is derived from the simple orthogonal laboratory grid, with elements cutaway to form the entrance and external terrace.
Louvres – made from expanded aluminium mesh – wrap around three elevations of the five-storey building and act as a veil, unifying the architectural form of the structure, whilst providing solar shading and a liveliness to the façades.
The building does more than provide technically excellent and controlled spaces within a box. The architectural language has become a beacon for the University’s ambitions, with a finely tuned and bold response that does not compromise on efficiency.