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Brunel's close encounter

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Cartwright Pickard Architects has won a competition with this futuristic concept for the Department of Engineering and Design at London's Brunel University, that will also act as a 'catalyst' for events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of engineering legend Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The practice saw off competition from Future Systems, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris with Faber Maunsell and Hamilton Associates with Buro Happold.

The scheme's brief demanded an 'innovative' approach that would establish an architectural landmark for the university and trigger the creation of a new identity for the department itself.

The winning proposal will, if built, create a new cuttingedge structure encircling one of the department's existing buildings and integrating the new accommodation with the older building within. It will include an ETFE-covered atrium, forming a new entrance to the department, and a series of lightweight glass bridges inside.

'We took our inspiration for this scheme from the extremely lightweight structures used in the aerospace, automotive and marine industries, ' James Pickard said .

'Brunel was perhaps our greatest engineer and his pioneering projects are often associated with facilitating movement and transport, ' he added.

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