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DRDH wins planning for latest UCA plans

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DRDH Architects has won the go-ahead for another key scheme for the University of Creative Arts (UCA) - this time at the institution’s Rochester campus

Having completed the revamp of the UCA’s Elaine Thomas Library in Farnham last year (AJ 30.09.13), the practice has now secured planning permission and scheduled monument consent for a £7million project to remodel and extend a key building on the Kent estate.

The scheme will revamp the existing 1970 block, designed by Kent County Architects as the Medway College of Design, and add a new entrance pavilion, lecture theatre, library, gallery, project spaces and ‘student facing services’.

The project is scheduled for completion in September 2015.

DRDH's recently approved UCA plans for the Rochester campus

DRDH’s recently approved UCA plans for the Rochester campus

The architect’s view

‘Proposals include a new two-storey entrance pavilion against the existing East elevation which will house a new reception area and administrative hub, bringing the various faculty functions into one location whilst releasing valuable teaching space in the existing building. The scale of the new pavilion works with the stepped form of the existing campus, making a more legible connection between ground and lower ground floors, and resolving the existing geometries and the sweeping line of the street.

‘The interior spaces have been redesigned to offer a continuous open space along the long axis of the building, leading from the new entrance pavilion. This will operate as a new circulation spine, accessing each of the main functions, including vertical circulation, an expanded toilet provision, a large auditorium, seminar and catering spaces.

‘The loose arrangement of this space can also be understood as a series of smaller rooms in a meandering arrangement, which can be more easily appropriated. The new, high specification, auditorium will be used for multiple purposes and can be opened up to the wider community for events such as cinema screenings. The relocation of the auditorium allows Library, study and Student Services spaces to be dramatically enlarged and improved.

‘The pavilion is designed as a lightweight structure, in order to minimise its impact on the archaeology, and is clad in waxed brass panels which are tonally sympathetic to the existing red/brown brick of the campus and will attain a rich, natural patina over time.

‘The original campus was designed by Kent County Architects as the Medway College of Design and opened in 1970. Its large terraced form occupies the site of the former Fort Pitt, a Scheduled Monument built during the Napoleonic wars in 1805-1819. The site forms the visual context for Chatham Dockyard, which has candidate status as a World Heritage Site.’


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