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Sheppard Robson gets OK for Newcastle University teaching block

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Newcastle City Council has approved plans by Sheppard Robson for a £29 million addition to Newcastle University

The 7,200m² scheme in Wellington Street comprises a four-storey building providing a wedge-shaped 750-seat auditorium, which can be subdivided into 500 and 250-seat lecture theatres.

A curved element of the building to the north and west, described by the practice as the ‘Learning Arc’, will contain seminar rooms, exhibition space and a café. 

The proposals also include a public space, which will act as a link between two nearby squares, Science Square and Knowledge Square.

Rupert Goddard, partner at Sheppard Robson, said: ‘The weaving together of social spaces with flexible auditoria will open up a diverse range of possibilities for modern ways of learning and teaching.

‘We wanted our design to communicate the pivotal role this facility will have to the campus and wider university, with a strident design that resonates both with the campus context and the city’s history of scientific innovation.’

The scheme, which can accommodate up to 2,200 students, is set to start on site in September this year. It is expected to be completed by September 2019 in time the start of that academic year. 



Source: Sheppard Robson


Architects’ view

The exterior of the ‘Learning Arc’ has a strong vertical expression formed of alternating perforated panels – which allow for natural ventilation – and more solid elements of back-painted glass. This forms a rhythm to the façade which follows the structure of the building’s concrete frame. The top level is lighter in form and is expressed in expanded aluminium mesh.

The auditorium uses a cladding system inspired by the Newcastle-born mathematician Louis Fry Richardson, whose pioneering work defined modern methods of weather forecasting. Fry Richardson’s work, which subdivided the planet into hexagonal zones, has been expressed in expanded aluminium mesh on the external elevations of the auditorium. A pattern has been created by the changing the orientation of the mesh, varying the opacity of the material.

Project data

Location Science Central, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Type of project Education
Client Newcastle University
Architect Sheppard Robson
Landscape architect Gillespies
Planning consultant Lichfields
Structural engineer Arup
M&E consultant Arup
Quantity surveyor Faithful + Gould
Planning supervisor Faithful + Gould
Main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine
Start on site date September 2017
Completion date September 2019
Gross internal floor area 7,200m²
Form of contract NEC two-stage tender
Total cost £29 million 

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