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Bangor University Campus by Nicholas Hare

Nicholas Hare has brought a proper sense of style to his namesake’s creation with two appropriately fitting new university buildings at Bangor in Wales

The University of Wales in Bangor is one of the more remote British seats of learning, picturesquely located between the Menai Straits and the foothills of Snowdonia. In one respect, however, Bangor, originally intended as the northern arm of the university (with its south Wales counterpart in Cardiff ) sets an example which other universities might have beneficially followed. Like Oxford and Cambridge, but unlike Reading, Birmingham, York and the University of East Anglia, this is a university in - and part of - the city (a status which Bangor, with a population of about 13,000 but also the oldest cathedral foundation in Britain, proudly claims).

In term time the university dominates Bangor, its buildings spreading across the town and its students (there are now about 7,000 of them, the majority from outside Wales) filling the streets and animating what was once a dour little place.

Indeed, it is the main building of the university, rather than the distinctly modest medieval cathedral, which is the principal local landmark. Built in 1907-11 and now listed Grade I, the University College of North Wales - as it was originally known - is one of the finest Edwardian buildings in Britain.

The architect was Henry T Hare (1861-1921), whose other works include Oxford Town Hall and Westminster College, Cambridge. Bangor, however, provided him with the job of a lifetime.’It would be hard to imagine a finer site, ’ he admitted, than the dramatic rocky ridge overlooking the town.

Working in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts - and with more than a glance at the Oxbridge tradition - Henry T Hare developed a free version of the prevalent ‘Jacobethan’ style of the Edwardian period.

The college’s rugged form and bold and incisive detailing are a response to its context and, though some thought that a Welsh architect should have been given the commission, Henry T Hare’s building today seems anything but an alien intrusion. It has been conscientiously maintained and the interiors, particularly the great hall, council room and splendid library, retain original fittings and furnishings. Henry T Hare is commemorated by a stained glass window, representing architecture and signed with his rebus - a hare.

Nicholas Hare - no relation - was profoundly impressed by Henry T Hare’s work when he first visited Bangor. Nicholas Hare Architects was shortlisted (together with Feilden Clegg, Niall Phillips and Bowen Dann Davies) for the university’s new psychology building. After intensive discussion and a number of site visits (the Bangor deputation, advised by Professor John Worthington of DEGW, was particularly impressed by Nicholas Hare’s recent building for SOAS in London), Hare was appointed early in 1996. Phase one of the building (2,000m 2) opened this spring after an 18 month construction period.

Hare’s original scheme was, in fact, never completed - the outer quadrangle of the original college was finally enclosed in the 1960s with buildings by Percy Thomas Partnership. Meanwhile, between the wars, the science departments of the university began to develop down on the level terrain close to the cathedral. (The best of the variegated buildings here is the agriculture department, a 1954 block by Percy Thomas Partnership in the Dudok manner, before the practice ‘went modern’ under the influence of the late Dale Owen. ) The main science library had been developed in a converted 1930s school building, with mundane extensions of the 1970s, one of them housing the computing department. A radical revamp and extension of this complex to form the new information services building, formed the second, more straightforward, of Nicholas Hare’s commissions at Bangor.

The site for the psychology building was, however, sensitive, since the new block would be visible from many parts of the town and would be read in the context of its Grade I-listed neighbour.

Psychology is one of Bangor’s starriest departments, a national leader in the field. In a decade, the department has increased its student numbers from 80 to 600, with a current staff of 74.’We wanted a world-class building for a world-class operation, ’ says head of department Professor Fergus Lowe.

‘Pride of place’ mattered, but more pressing was the need to bring together an academic community scattered through a series of converted houses.

The university has far too many of the latter, says Bangor’s director of estates, Malcolm Swann, whose aim is to rationalise the estate and reduce a punishing maintenance budget. It had owned the terraced houses on the site now occupied by the Brigantia Building (as the psychology’s department new home is known) for some years, but they had little potential for beneficial use and there were no planning objections to redevelopment. Swann believes that a broadly ‘contextual’ design was mandatory. Given the exposed nature of the site, the new building had to be demonstrably made for hard wear - ‘it seemed likely that the most exciting elements of the building would be internal’, he says. ‘But there was also the desire to achieve a strong image of quality.’

In accord with this aim, design-and-build options were ruled out and the project was undertaken under a JCT80 contract. ‘We decided to let the architects have their head, ’ says Swann.

Nicholas Hare and his team, led by project architect Jayne Bird, see the three-storey building as ‘essentially deferential’, with ‘sensible’ details. The site has a steep fall, making it possible to provide access at first floor level from College Road (where the new building is linked to Victorian houses still used by the department) and to incorporate plant accommodation in a convenient lower-ground floor space.

There was something of a furore back in the 1900s when Henry T Hare used slates from southwest Wales to roof his buildings. Gwynedd planners now seek to impose the use of the local product and north Wales slate forms the roof covering of the building and is used for window sills.

It is also deployed to good effect inside to floor the reception area.

The white render used on the exterior of the building, combined with long bands of windows and a pitched roof, give it a calm, almost Germanic look - well, Bangor’s first principal was a German.

The south-west elevation features a contrasting metallic layered facade, with a system of balconies/ louvres to provide shading.When phase two of the project is built (as Professor Lowe seems confident it will be) this will be an internal elevation, one side of a glazed central atrium. The completed building will finally unite the entire department. For the time being, phase one contains administration, staff accommodation and small teaching and experimental rooms, with just one sizeable lecture theatre at second floor level.

The impressive entrance lobby apart, the internal spaces are quite matter-of-fact, with simple, far-from-extravagant detailing, though the profiled ceiling coffer, left exposed in most offices, adds a degree of visual interest. The main stair, set in an impressive glazed core, together with lift and WCs, seems over-large - but then it is designed to serve the completed, 5,000m 2, building.At second floor level, the central corridor forms a tall slit, naturally lit at ridge level - this is the part of the building which really ‘lifts the spirits’ in Professor Lowe’s words. Professor Lowe commends the social agenda of the building which, he says, ‘has transformed working relationships’.

Nicholas Hare Architects’ commission for the information services building followed on from this more ambitious project. ‘We’d found a good practice, with whom we enjoyed working, ’ says Swann, ‘so it seemed sensible to stick with them.’

The existing science library was, Swann says, ‘dismal’. But the university was looking for a pragmatic, quite economical approach - though unappealing, the 1970s additions had to be retained and refurbished.

The first bold move was to open up the narrow entrance area by demolishing it back to the facade.

Fitted with glass doors - the only change to the street frontage - it now looks inviting rather than repellent. Inside, the former classrooms, housing books, have been opened up to a new central space, where the central issue desk and banks of computers for student use are located. At ground floor level, this space is daylit via a clerestorey and a circular lightwell, cut in the ceiling, which allows light to spill down from a glazed skylight on the floor above. Stairs, ramps and a lift are used within this new link building to achieve connections between the former school and the later accretions.

The in-situ concrete vaults used at both levels recall those in the Brigantia Building, but seem here to have been executed with rather less skill.

Externally, the link building is extensively glazed, with framing of hardwood and sun-screen louvres. The 1970s buildings have been modestly refurbished to provide what appear to be agreeable working conditions.

Henry T Hare’s original college at Bangor was built through the contributions of the ordinary people of Wales - in some villages, it was recorded, every household, however poor, gave its mite.

Today, the university has to rely largely on the closely-monitored largesse of the state. Working with another Hare, it seems to have embarked on a new phase of development where necessary economy and a proper sense of style go hand in hand.

PSYCHOLOGY BUILDING STRUCTURE

Foundations are of reinforced concrete spread type footing.Because the site slopes unevenly these were founded at varying levels and stripped footings were stepped where necessary. Columns are supported on pad footings and masonry infill panels on strip footings.The three-storey building has a steeply pitched roof clad in slate and external walls are of rendered masonry construction and curtain walling. Internal planning called for a significant amount of cellularised space with some open plan spaces for reception areas and meeting rooms. The design also had to be sufficiently flexible to allow for future alterations to the layout; vibration between floors had to be kept to a minimum and an in-situ reinforced frame structure was chosen as the most economical and appropriate solution.

First and second floors have exposed vaulted soffits with an overall thickness of 350mm (120mm at the crown of the vaults).

The suspended section of the ground floor over the plant room is a two-way spanning slab supported off beams on the main grid lines; supporting columns are 400mm diameter.The roof structure is in steelwork trusses with bolted connections for easy delivery to the awkward site. The central section of each truss is exposed and free of diagonal bracing members. Wind girders in the plane of the rafters and at ceiling/eaves level provide additional bracing to the roof structure.Stability against lateral loads is provided by a reinforced concrete shear wall, with the lift shaft acting as a core.

INFORMATION SERVICES BUILDING STRUCTURE

The structure of the existing library is loadbearing masonry with reinforced concrete floors. Within the existing library, masonry walls were removed in the foyer and the new first floor area supported off four new reinforced concrete columns to reduce loading on the foyer walls. Two of these columns continue through the first floor to support the new roof slab and roof-mounted building services.

The new two-storey link building to the existing periodicals building and computer building has piled foundations; a system of pile caps and ground beams connects the pile heads. The open plan interior and requirements for the minimum number of internal columns dictated the need for a framed structure. A reinforced concrete frame was chosen as the most appropriate and economical solution. The slab has an exposed vaulted concrete soffit at first floor and roof levels. Stability is provided by the reinforced concrete lift core and the main rear elevational wall of the exisiting building; mechanical plant is carried on the roof.

Part of the periodicals building was demolished to make space for the link and the existing floor slab replaced by a deeper slab to support mobile stacking; additional CHS bracing was added to the roof structure.

The roof connects to a new 215mm thick masonry spine wall introduced to give increased stability against lateral loading in the north/south direction. East/west loads are transferred to solid gable wall panels. In the computer building part of the existing ground floor walls were removed in the south-west corner and new beams were added at first floor level to span the new openings.A new WC building is supported on a raft foundation.

Information services building

Costs based on final account

SUBSTRUCTURE FOUNDATIONS/SLABS £63.39/m2

Mini piling, reinforced concrete, wide strip foundations, reinforced column bases, reinforced ground floor slab, liquid-applied tanking and damp proofing

SUPERSTRUCTURE FRAME AND UPPER FLOORS £33.42/m2

Reinforced concrete circular columns, reinforced concrete beams, structural steelwork, reinforced concrete vaulted roof slabs

ROOF £75.86/m2

Inverted flat roof with reinforced concrete decking, rooflight, alterations to felt-covered flat roof, alterations to Welsh slate-clad pitched roof, aluminium gutters and down pipes

STAIRCASES £8.45/m2

Reinforced concrete stairs, galvanised mild steel balustrades, maple handrails

EXTERNAL WALLS AND WINDOWS £80.83/m2

Brick/block cavity walls with cavity insulation, purpose-made Iroko curtain walling, Iroko-framed windows, repairs and decoration to existing windows

INTERNAL WALLS AND PARTITIONS £12.81/m2

Reinforced concrete walls to lift shafts, block walls, stud partitions with plasterboard, WC cubicles

DOORS £20.87/m2

Hardwood veneered doors, maple frames

INTERNAL FINISHES WALL, FLOOR AND CEILING FINISHES £79.62/m2

Plastered and painted walls, MDF skirting with hardwood lipping, ceramic wall tiles, carpet on raised access floor, carpet on screeds, vinyl flooring

FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS FURNITURE £20.23/m2

Kitchenette, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, blinds, reception/security desks, library counter (loose furniture procured by client not included)

SERVICES SANITARY APPLIANCES £2.55/m2

WCs, wash basins, cleaners’sinks, urinals

DISPOSAL INSTALLATIONS £6.21/m2

UPVC drainpipes

WATER INSTALLATIONS £4.31/m2

Copper hot and cold water installations

SPACE HEATING/AIR TREATMENT £61.74/m2

Distribution pipework, radiators and TRVs, under floor heating system, connection to building management system.Gas-fired boiler plant, local electric hot water heaters.

ELECTRICAL SERVICES £157.08/m2

LV distribution, lighting, emergency lighting and power, conduit, cable tray and trunking, fire alarm installation, lightning protection system, external lighting installation, disabled refuge alarm installation, CCTV, intruder alarm and access system

GAS INSTALLATIONS £0.44/m2

Natural gas distribution pipework

LIFT AND CONVEYOR INSTALLATIONS £12.15/m2

Eight-person wheelchair and passenger lift

COMMUNICATION INSTALLATIONS £10.25/m2

Voice data installations and outlets, CAT 5 cabling, cable nets, hubs etc. Disaster plan voice installation, telephones

BUILDERS’WORK IN CONNECTION £5.64/m2

Fire stopping, holes, chases, plinths

PRELIMINARIES AND INSURANCES PRELIMINARIES, OVERHEADS AND PROFIT £81.33/m

EXTERNAL WORKS LANDSCAPING, ANCILLARY BUILDINGS £78,880.07

Landscaping, access highway improvements, drainage, demolitions

COST SUMMARY

SUBSTRUCTURE 63.39 8.32

SUPERSTRUCTURE

Frame and upper floors 33.42 4.39

Roof 75.86 9.95

Staircases 8.45 1.11

External walls and windows 80.83 10.61

Internal walls and partitions 12.81 1.68

Doors 20.87 2.74

Group element total 232.24 30.48

INTERNAL FINISHES

Wall, floor and ceiling finishes 79.62 10.45

FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS 20.23 2.65

SERVICES

Sanitary appliances 2.55 0.33

Disposal installations 6.21 0.82

Water installations 4.31 0.57

Space heating/air treatment 61.74 8.10

Electrical installations 157.08 20.61

Gas installations 0.44 0.06

Lift and conveyor installations 12.15 1.59

Communication installations 10.25 1.35

Builders’work in connection 5.64 0.74

Group element total 285.22 37.43

PRELIMINARIES 81.33 10.67

TOTAL 762.03 100.00

Costs supplied by Knight Khonje, KTK Construction Services

CREDITS

TENDER DATE 28.8.97 (enabling works), 2.12.97 (main contract)

START ON SITE DATE 6.10.97 (enabling works), 19.1.98 (main contract)

CONTRACT DURATION 40 weeks

GROSS INTERNAL FLOOR AREA 2,332m2

CONTRACT TYPE JCT80

TOTAL COST £1,855,938 including £78,880 for external works

CLIENT University of Wales, Bangor

ARCHITECT Nicholas Hare Architects: Jayne Bird, James Eades, Nicholas Hare, Terry Hayward, David Lowe, Michael Ward

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Estates department, University of Wales, Bangor

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER WS Atkins, Wales

SERVICES ENGINEER Donald Smith Seymour & Rooley

CONTRACTOR Watkins Jones & Sons M & E

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Symonds

SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS metalwork (balustrades) Mona F&T; glazed entrance door Intercity Glazing; flat roof Sarnafil; rooflight Glazing Standard Patent Glazing Co; brise soleil Technical Blinds; safety equipment HCL Safety; suspended access Danogips; raised access floor Quiligotti; acoustic plaster Mandoval; ironmongery NT Laidlaw; external paving Marshalls

WEBLINKS

University of Wales, Bangor www.bangor.ac.uk

WS Atkins www.wsatkins.co.uk

Psychology building

Costs based on final account

SUBSTRUCTURE FOUNDATIONS/SLABS £81.60/m2

Reinforced concrete stepped foundations, reinforced concrete key to rock bed, reinforced concrete ground floor slab, liquid-applied tanking and damp proofing

SUPERSTRUCTURE FRAME AND UPPER FLOORS £112.97/m2

Reinforced concrete circular columns, reinforced concrete vaulted floor slabs

ROOF £80.48/m2

Welsh slate-clad pitched roof on structural steel frame and timber sub frame. Rooflight to apex, ternecoated stainless steel to entrance canopy. Aluminium gutters and down pipes. Safety system to access roof light

STAIRCASES £33.89/m2

Reinforced concrete stairs, galvanised mild steel balustrades, maple handrails, metal spiral escape staircase

EXTERNAL WALLS £143.50/m2

Reinforced concrete shear walls, 215 thick ‘block on its side’ blockwalls with Sto render and insulation, Velfac curtain walling

WINDOWS AND EXTERNAL DOORS £49.21/m2

Velfac windows with hardwood sub frames, windows, Dorma windows

INTERNAL WALLS AND PARTITIONS £26.76/m2

Reinforced concrete walls to lift shafts and stair walls, metal stud partitions with plasterboard, WC cubicles

INTERNAL DOORS £9.48/m2

Painted softwood

INTERNAL FINISHES WALL, FLOOR AND CEILING FINISHES £85.04/m2

Plastered and painted walls, softwoods skirting painted, ceramic tiles to WC areas and kitchenettes.

Carpet on raised access floor, carpet on screeds, vinyl, slate.Painted vaulted-concrete soffits, plasterboard suspended ceiling system

FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS FURNITURE £21.70/m2

Kitchenettes, blinds, reception/security desks (loose furniture procured by client not included)

SERVICES SANITARY APPLIANCES £12.32/m2

DISPOSAL INSTALLATIONS £3.00/m2

UPVC drain pipes

WATER INSTALLATIONS £9.10/m2

Copper hot and cold water installations

SPACE HEATING/AIR TREATMENT £62.78/m2

Distribution pipework, radiators, and TRVS, under-floor heating system, connection to building management system.Gas-fired boiler plant, local electric hot water heaters

VENTILATING SYSTEMS £18.94/m2

ELECTRICAL SERVICES £195.51/m2

LV distribution, lighting, emergency lighting and power, conduit, cable tray and trunking, installation, lightning protection system, external lighting installation, CCTV, intruder alarm and access system

GAS INSTALLATIONS £0.99/m2

Natural gas distribution pipe work

LIFT AND CONVEYOR INSTALLATIONS £10.56/m2

Six-person wheelchair and passenger lift

COMMUNICATION INSTALLATIONS £34.34/m2

Voice data installations and outlets, CAT 5 cabling to cabinets, hubs etc. Disaster plan voice installation, telephones

BUILDERS’WORK IN CONNECTION £8.42/m2

Fire stopping, holes, chases, plinths

PRELIMINARIES AND INSURANCES PRELIMINARIES, OVERHEADS AND PROFIT £104.11/m2

EXTERNAL WORKS LANDSCAPING, ANCILLARY BUILDINGS £284,435/m2

Landscaping, access highway improvements, drainage, demolitions

COST SUMMARY (£) of total

SUBSTRUCTURE 81.60 7.37

SUPERSTRUCTURE

Frame and upper floors 112.97 10.21

Roof 80.48 7.27

Staircases 33.89 3.06

External walls 143.50 12.96

Windows and external doors 49.21 4.45

Internal walls and partitions 28.76 2.60

Internal doors 9.48 0.86

Group element total 327.85 41.41

INTERNAL FINISHES

Wall, floor and ceiling finishes 85.04 7.69

FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS 21.70 1.96

SERVICES

Sanitary appliances 12.32 1.11

Disposal installations 3.00 0.27

Water installations 9.10 0.82

Space heating/air treatment 62.78 5.67

Ventilating systems 18.94 1.71

Electrical installations 195.51 17.67

Gas installations 0.99 0.09

Lift and conveyor installations 10.56 0.96

Communication installations 34.34 3.10

Builders’work in connection 8.42 0.76

Group element total 355.96 32.16

PRELIMINARIES 104.11 9.41

TOTAL 1,106.70 100.00

Costs supplied by Knight Khonje, KTK Construction Services

CREDITS

TENDER DATE 31.7.98

START DATE 14.9.00

COMPLETION DATE 7.3.00

CONTRACT DURATION 64 weeks

CONTRACT TYPE JCT80

GROSS INTERNAL FLOOR AREA 2,272m 2(2209m 2main building + 63m 2link to existing)

TOTAL COST £2,798,861 including £284,435 for external works

CLIENT University of Wales, Bangor

ARCHITECT Nicholas Hare Architects: Jayne Bird, James Eades, Nicholas Hare, Terry Hayward, Sam Kendon, David Lowe, Karen Neale, Michael Ward, Stephen Willmore

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Estates department, University of Wales, Bangor M&E

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Symonds

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER WS Atkins, Wales

SERVICES ENGINEER Donald Smith, Seymour & Rooley

CONTRACTOR Pochin (Contractors)

SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS lift Express Evans; concrete frame Gormley; structural steelwork Steelform; windows/curtain walling Velfac; atrium glazing Crittall; render STO, rooflight Cox Building Products; slate roof, sills, floors Alfred McAlpine; soffit panels TRESPA; rainwater goods ARWS (Aluminium Rain Water Supplies); spiral stair Crescent of Cambridge; fall arrest system HLC Safety; specialist joinery Lowes Joinery; glass block walling Pittsburgh Corning; suspended ceilings Rockfon; Armstrong raised flooring Quiligotti; revolving doors Dorma; sanitaryware Twyfords; carpet Gradus; external paving Marshalls; facing bricks Marshalls; ironmongery NT Laidlaw

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