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Design Engine submits plans for Winchester University building

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Design Engine’s plans for a £30 million building for Winchester University have been lodged with Winchester City Council 

The new teaching building will sit within the university’s West Downs campus, next to the its Grade II-listed business school, which was originally an 18th-century boys boarding school. 

Plans for the 7,500m² project include a triangular entrance pavilion, teaching areas, a rotunda lecture theatre, a library and a food hall.

It is designed to respond to the sloping landscape with a series of steps ‘radiating’ around the outside of the rotunda theatre, according to the practice. 

Design Engine director Richard Jobson said: ‘Ultimately we see the West Downs project as the most important building the university has commissioned to date and as such we are passionate in our desire to help the university deliver a landmark scheme on this site.’

The building is expected to be completed by summer 2019. It forms part of the University of Winchester’s overall masterplan, which will see building improvements made across the university with a finish date scheduled for 2025.

Project data 

Location West Downs Campus, University of Winchester
Type of project Higher Education
Client University of Winchester
Architect Design Engine Architects
Landscape architect LUC (Land Use Consultants)
Structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel
M&E consultant Mecserve
Quantity surveyor Jackson Coles
Lighting consultant Michael Grubb Studio
Funding Private
Tender date March 2017
Start on site date September 2017
Completion date September 2019
Contract duration 2 years
Gross internal floor area 7,500m²
Form of contract Design and Build
Total cost £30 million

Architect’s view

Located on an undeveloped site adjacent to the university’s Grade II-listed business school, the new scheme is designed to set it within the wider context of the city of Winchester and its historic and contemporary public buildings.

A linear block of classrooms and teaching facilities sets a background rhythm, against which a grand lecture theatre takes the form of 
a rotunda. A pavilion under a triangular roof shelters 
the social learning and library spaces.

The pavilion is irregular in plan and contrasts with the linear block acting as an inflection in the plan to highlight its relative importance.

The building responds to the sloping landscape with a terrace of stepped parterres radiating from the rotunda, setting the linear and radial planning in counterpoint. This response to the topography shows how the planning strategy inflects in response to the particularities of the site.

The complex compositional balance which brings together linear, radial and angular planning is achieved through the careful juxtaposition of each. Each volume expresses its unique function while the overall composition in setting the three organisational arrangements against each other provides a visual tension whose balance, like an abstract painting, is achieved.

The compositional arrangement of the triangular entrance pavilion with over-sailing roof has strong directional emphasis when seen in perspective. The solidity and visual stability of the rotunda contrasts with the dynamic emphasis of the open entrance canopy framing the sky.

The new buildings will echo the materiality of the West Downs Centre and the typical materials used in civic buildings within Winchester. This will be achieved through a material strategy that uses flint, limestone and terracotta with contemporary detailing, while the deployment of weathering steel cladding, particularly on the striking drum of the circular lecture theatre, tonally links the new building with the brick colour in the existing listed West Downs Centre.

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