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Exclusive: Penoyre & Prasad to create £50m faculty for Brunel University

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Penoyre & Prasad has won Brunel University London’s design competition for a £50 million learning and teaching centre [story includes images of all finalist concepts]

The studio was chosen ahead of rival bids by WilkinsonEyre, O’Donnell + Tuomey, Australian practice fjmt, and Hawkins\Brown to win the estimated £2 million design contract.

The ‘high-quality, light, contemporary’ facility will replace the 1968 John Crank building on the university’s main campus.

Expected to complete in 2020, the new structure will form one side of a sunken ‘quad’ featuring the Grade II-listed Central Lecture Block, the Brutalist-style Halsbury Building and the recently over-clad Hamilton Building.

Deputy vice-chancellor Andrew George said: ‘Brunel is engaged on an ambitious plan to transform our education, and key to that plan is the provision of a Learning and Teaching centre that will support our students and staff in adopting new approaches, and signal our continued commitment to provide the highest-quality education.

‘The entries for the design competition provided a range of inspiring ideas of what this building could be like. In particular the design put forward by Penoyre & Prasad captures our vision of providing flexible, ICT-enabled space for both formal and informal collaborative learning.

‘We are excited to be working with the design team so that we can develop a building that will serve the needs of our students and staff for many decades, and which also act as an inspiring heart of our campus”

Director of estates David Bannister said: ‘The University was delighted with the competitive selection process which resulted in high quality design responses, it would like to thank the independent architect judges also the London School of Economics Estates Division and the RIBA who both shared their experience of architectural competitions. Finally the university greatly appreciated the work of the five architects who submitted designs.’

Brunel University, founded in 1966 and named after Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, focuses on a range of technology and arts subjects and has more than 12,900 students and 2,500 staff. Its 79ha campus was masterplanned by Sheppard Robson in 1965, and includes a range of buildings in the Brutalist and High-Tech styles. It was used as a location for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and the television series Spooks.

700 brunel uni competition image 03 crop

700 brunel uni competition image 03 crop

The new building, which will aim for a BREEAM Excellent rating, will be expected to act as a hub for public engagement and a student heart for the campus. Proposals were required to have interior spaces that ‘encourage a diverse range of teaching, learning, quiet and social activities helping to foster collaborations, engagement and new learning initiatives’.

The project is part of a £150 million investment over five years, which will also deliver a new engineering complex and a sports and wellbeing centre nearby.

The finalist teams each received a £10,000 honorarium for participating in the design phase.

The judging panel included Cindy Walters, director of Walters & Cohen Architects; Patrick Nee, partner at Hopkins; Nigel Craddock, education sector lead at Pascal and Watson; and three representatives from the university.

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