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Associated Architects appointed to former Atkins design school job

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Associated Architects has taken over from Atkins on a project to design an architecture school in the West Midlands

The Birmingham-based AJ100 practice has drawn up plans for the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment.

The practice was appointed after earlier consented plans by Atkins had to be scrapped at pre-construction stage when it emerged that certain buildings on the site could not be used as expected.

It is understood that Associated Architects’ proposals – while maintaining certain heritage assets, including the site’s clock tower – involve more new build than Atkins’ designs.

The development, at the former Springfield brewery on Cambridge Street, will provide space for the school to grow from under 1,100 students to more than 1,500. It forms the largest part of the first phase of the £100 million redevelopment of the site to create a Springfield Campus by 2020.

The design and access statement submitted to the City of Wolverhampton Council for the Associated scheme said: ‘This 12-acre Grade II-listed site has suffered from over 20 years of abandonment, fire damage, and failed development.

’Through the vision and leadership of the university and employer partners, this site will also be a catalyst to ignite broader regeneration in the heart of the Canal Side Quarter regeneration zone in Wolverhampton.’

A 7,900m² new building will be ‘wrapped around’ the restored clock tower, according to the university. At its heart will be a naturally lit open atrium spanning three floors, covered by a glass roof lantern.

It will use a mix of precast white concrete, bronze metal cladding and glazing. A saw-tooth roof will ‘echo the historic industrial buildings that stood on the site’ while a translucent light-box will ‘mimic the former Springfield water tower tank’.

Inside the building will be teaching and social learning spaces; design studios; specialist labs; multi-disciplinary workshops; a lecture theatre; a café; offices; meeting rooms; computer rooms; and a top-floor studio with double-height ceilings.

Outside, a landscaped piazza and courtyard will link the new school – which will specialise in supporting skills in architecture, construction and related subjects – to the rest of the site.

Deputy vice-chancellor Jackie Dunne said: ‘We think the new design is really exciting and will be a fantastic addition to the city. Springfield is a key strategic project for the university and we are committed to realising the vision of the site and the part this will play in regenerating Wolverhampton.’

Atkins received planning permission for its earlier vision for the school of architecture back in 2016, but the project had to be abandoned late last year when structural integrity issues emerged in buildings on the site.

Atkins declined to comment. Associated Architects has been contacted for comment.

Associated Architects' school of design for University of Wolverhampton

Associated Architects’ school of design for University of Wolverhampton

Associated Architects’ school of design for University of Wolverhampton

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