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Wilkinson wins Ashcroft's Anglia Poly building

Wilkinson Eyre Architects has won a competition for a new higher education building in Chelmsford which will be paid for using cash donated by the Tory party treasurer and erstwhile exile Michael Ashcroft.

The new £8 million centre for business management and postgraduate studies for the Anglia Polytechnic University will be named The Michael A Ashcroft Building in honour of the former APU student who said he now 'wants to give something back.' Ashcroft, a millionaire by the time he was 31, has made a £5 million donation to the 'landmark' building's costs.

Wilkinson's defeated Rick Mather Architects, Edward Cullinan Architects, Pawson Williams Architects and Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects to win the RIBA-run competition last week.

Wilkinson Eyre proposes a linear, 'wing-type' building connecting to an existing facility on the University's Rivermead campus via a new glass-fronted foyer. Above this foyer 'floats' a 250-seat shining titanium-clad auditorium which provides a point of focus for a new tree-lined plaza approaching it. A double-height space with new restaurant and cafe extends to the river Chelmer behind, while the main four-storey teaching block runs parallel with the river. The block's accommodation is arranged as flexible spaces and includes a rooftop pavilion and terrace. It is fronted by a full-height double-glass skin or 'bioclimatic' wall. Other environmental features, included to gear the building towards achieving an 'excellent' BREEAM rating, include timber louvres to shade the interior from direct sunlight, the Termadeck cooled slab system, buffer zone corridors, heat recovery and the use of green roofs.

The jury panel for the competition included Richard Feilden of Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects and Bill Taylor of Michael Hopkins and Partners on behalf of the RIBA. They were asked to judge the scheme in terms of how it: created a 'landmark';

was 'future-proof ' ; used the site; and represented value for money. The winner 'gave the right balance of detail and openness, and was flexible enough to accommodate the changing nature of education, ' they said.' It will, they added, provide the University with a 'stunning' building.

The new building should be ready to open in September 2002.

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