David Willetts opens new building at UWE

Issue date: 16 June 2011

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts with UWE VC Professor Steve West

Official launch of UWE Architecture and Product Design Centre Thursday 16 June 2011

The Studios Extension, ‘R' block, Frenchay Campus, University of the West of England

The Minister of State for Universities and Science, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, visited the Frenchay Campus at the University of the West of England today to formally open the recently completed Architecture and Product Design Centre.

The Minister unveiled a special plaque to mark the official launch of the £7.5million building that includes many innovative sustainable design features.

Following a formal welcome by UWE Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve West, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP met the building design and construction team of The Studios Extension and formally opened the building.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

“Having the right learning environment at university can be really valuable to students, especially those on courses involving practical work. This makes it particularly fitting that UWE's product design and architecture students will be able to benefit from such a cutting-edge and sustainable new building.”

Professor West said, “We are delighted to welcome David Willetts to UWE – the launch of the Centre for Architecture and Product Design is an important stage in out ambitious investment programme that will over the coming years see transformational developments aimed at providing our students with a learning environment that is second to none. This beautiful building has been welcomed by students who are so proud of it that they made their own You Tube film to promote it to the world.

“What makes us doubly proud is the fact that the UWE project management team, the architects and the construction project management team who worked on the building all had UWE alumni at the helm. This fact is very gratifying and absolutely testament to the value of the education they received at UWE.

“I am keen to see other developments like this at UWE as I think we have really demonstrated that we can harness great talent to deliver a significant benefit to our staff and students.”

The new Centre includes teaching and social spaces for common use by all at UWE. The state of the art building mirrors the form of the existing Architecture building but sustainable building practice has come on leaps and bounds since 2002 when the original building was completed.

The extension has achieved a BREEAM rating of 'excellent' in recognition of its overall environmental performance – including a heating system fuelled by bio-fuel made from recycled cooking oil and ground coupled cooling. This sustainable building features high levels of natural sunlight, straw bale cladding and a bio-fuel boiler and is set to be the inspiration for future campus development at UWE.

The project was managed by UWE led by Doug Smith and Phil Lawrence from UWE Facilities. An integrated collaborative approach was adopted to provide co-ordination between the Faculty of Environment and Technology, the University, consultant design teams and the principal contractor Willmott Dixon. The architect and lead designer was Stride Treglown and construction project managers Turner and Townsend.


Editor's notes

More detail on the design features of the new Architecture and Product Design Centre

On the ground floor, there is a flexibly designed lecture theatre and five teaching spaces that can also be used for conferences and other events. All are equipped with the latest audio visual technology. On the first floor, in addition to various flexible and informal learning areas, the accommodation comprises design studios, an IT lab and an office for support staff. On the second floor there are postgraduate architecture studios, informal learning areas and a large open plan office for academic staff with adjacent meeting rooms.

The r2 café on the ground floor is a focus for the whole of the building. The attention to detail is apparent throughout the building. In the café the shutters incorporate a design that shows Bristol's floating harbour. A glazed panel reveals one of the straw bale insulation panels supplied by Modcell™, a Bristol based company founded by Craig White who is a part-time lecturer at UWE.

All materials have been carefully selected to ensure a high recycled material content throughout. The rain screen cladding, developed by Ibstock, and used for the first time on this building, has 93 per cent recycled content. The lecture theatre walls are constructed of straw bales for thermal and acoustic performance. The lecture theatre is cooled in summer (and partially warmed in winter) by fresh air drawn through pipes buried beneath the nearby lawn. The boiler uses biofuel from refined waste cooking oil.

A number of trees within the footprint of the building site were protected during construction, and the landscaping design which includes an area of wildflower planting, has greatly enhanced the ecology of the surroundings.

The waste produced from the construction work has been carefully managed, and a Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) performance of 21 per cent has been achieved, exceeding the targets set. 95 per cent of construction waste has been diverted from landfill.

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