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A light and delicate new school centre

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working details

The 'school centre' creates a new main entrance and reception to the Sussex Institute, Sussex University, and houses an administration area with workstations for eight staff on the ground floor, and offices for the dean and the school administration manager on the first floor. The building is one of five new school centres attached to the original '60s university buildings on the campus, many of which are now Grade II*-listed.

The original buildings were built of brick and concrete and have a robust solidity. In contrast, the new centre is light and delicate, with a steel frame clad with a palette of lightweight materials - glass, mill-finish aluminium and western red cedar boards - laid horizontally.

Steps lead up to the main entrance in the east wall, which is a glazed curtain wall through which the doubleheight reception and firstfloor walkway bridge can be seen clearly.

The roof and the south wall are clad with mill-finish aluminium; they extend 2m beyond the glazed curtain wall, sheltering it with what appears as an L-shaped 'folded plane'.

To enhance the folded shape, the south wall terminates just above the ground with low-level glazing. The inner planes of the south wall and roof are lined with western red cedar boards on both the outer and inner sides of the glazed curtain wall.

The extension of the roof over the curtain wall rests on a series of 139mm-diameter steel columns, which are connected to 150 x 150mm SHS roof beams. At the south-east corner, the edge of the aluminium/ cedar-clad wall is supported on a similar column, and the low-level clerestory returns to connect to the adjacent glazing with a frameless, structural, clear silicone joint.

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