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Twelve Architects completes £81m Sheffield Diamond

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London’s Twelve Architects has unveiled its first finished UK project: this £81 million building for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield


The 19,500m Diamond, so-called because of the shape and colour of its glass and anodised aluminium facade, has been built to accommodate Sheffield’s growing engineering department, which aims to double in size by 2021.

The building, which controversially replaced the Grade II-listed Edwardian wing of the Jessops Hospital, will eventually hold up to 5,000 students and will be used by other departments, promoting collaboration and cross-disciplinary study.

Twelve Architects emerged from floundering giant RMJM in late 2012, and key members of the team worked on RIBA stages A-E of the Diamond while employed at RMJM.

As part of the victorious Balfour Beatty Construction contractor-led bid, the emerging practice subsequently landed the design and delivery of the faculty in mid-2013.

The practice said it designed the block’s facade with reference to a ‘cellular automaton’; a model used by the university to describe how the microstructure of steel adapts during processing.

Internally, the design features a naturally ventilated, central atrium with curved ‘pods’, used for informal study and group discussion.

Classrooms, offices and laboratories with full-height glazing are located to the north and south of the atrium.

A series of lecture theatres are located on the lower ground floor with a total capacity of 1,500 spaces.

151112 Twelve Diamond 001


Project data

Project start August 2011
Start on site 
August 2013
Completion date 
September 2015
Sheffield, UK
Type of project 19,500m2 teaching and learning facility for University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering.
Total project value £81million
University of Sheffield
Architect Twelve Architects (RIBA stages A-E were completed by the core members of Twelve Architects while employed by RMJM.)
Contractor Balfour Beatty
Project & Cost Management Turner & Townsend
Structural and civil Arup
Fire Arup
M&E Arup (stage A - E) & NG Bailey (Stage F)
Acoustician SRL
Planning consultant Montagu Evans
CDM co-ordinator RLF
BREEAM Assessment 3 Planets
BREEAM (predicted) Excellent

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