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UTC Cambridge by Hawkins\Brown

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[#GREATSCHOOLS] Hawkins\Brown’s UTC Cambridge required an innovative building to reflect its specialism in biomedical and environment science

The brief was to create a building to inspire its pupils and prepare them for the real world. Hawkins\Brown was able to bring its experience of designing for both industry and higher education to provide a ‘grown-up’ learning environment and social space for the school.

Both budget and timescale were extremely tight: the construction cost was an economic £1,400/m² (excluding fittings and science equipment); while the team won the project in Easter 2013, construction began in September 2013, and the school opened on schedule in September 2014.

Hawkins\Brown used its experience to provide a ‘grown-up’ learning environment

The building’s design creates a sense of space and light throughout, combining open volumes and light wells to create a variety of flexible spaces ideally suited to supporting a new way of learning.

The layout is simple and fully accessible. Social learning spaces on the ground floor, including a learning resource centre, lecture hall and canteen, are joined by more traditional classrooms and science labs on the first floor.  The top floor ‘superlab’ reflects the school’s specialism, providing bespoke and highly flexible laboratory space for up to 350 students in a setting quite different from traditional laboratory spaces for this age group.

UTC Cambridge

The UTC is clad in Cor-ten steel

Cor-ten cladding was chosen as a low-maintenance material that would change and develop in tone over time.  This process is emphasised by the artwork, which artist Jo Chapman etched into the Cor-ten, depicting viruses discovered by Cambridge researchers.  The images will slowly oxidise through time and eventually disappear.

Project data

Cost £7.4m 
Internal area 5,300m²
Start on site September 2013
Completion September 2014
Client UTC Cambridge Trust
Structural engineer Bam Design
M&E consultant Hoare Lea
Landscape architect  The Landscape Partnership
Acoustic engineer Hoare Lea
Project manager Mott MacDonald
Main contractor Bam Construction


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