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Nottingham, United Kingdom
Research Laboratory
'This is bigger than just a building – it’s a whole philosophy'. These words are an entirely apt description of the ambition for the project and what has been achieved through a deep collaboration between the client and design teams.

The project demonstrates an unwavering focus on sustainability and challenges every aspect of the design and construction process.

The result is a building that not only achieves BREEAM outstanding and LEED platinum awards, but perhaps more importantly signals how such an approach can directly inform architectural design and greatly enhance the user experience.

The distinctive volumetric form has its origin in the need for a highly-serviced laboratory space, but one which can be naturally ventilated.

The resulting curved roof then combines the most advantageous angle for photovoltaic panels and incorporates a series of large openings driving natural light deep in to the plan form - both principles further reducing energy consumption.

The undulating roof form is therefore a direct expression of sustainable design drivers. The already hard-working roof goes on to embrace biodiversity by incorporating a green landscape and assisting rainwater attenuation.

Internally the volume reveals itself as an unexpected and unique laboratory environment where the building processes and services are given full expression and allow a clear appreciation of the design approach.

Carbon reduction is also the primary consideration in the selection of construction materials and the use of timber technologies is given full visual expression in a similar way to the building form and services.

Both the timber frame and wall panelling are on view without extraneous finishing materials, again reinforcing the commitment to sustainable and accountable design decisions.

The philosophy connecting building operation and aesthetic is also clearly expressed in the opening up of the laboratory environment, with clear views between spaces to aid collaboration and understanding of the processes within.

Externally the laboratory volumes are clad in a combination of Western Red Cedar and single fired terracotta panels - both natural materials chosen for their low embodied energy. Overhangs and deeply set windows are further design cues chosen to control the internal environment, adding to the distinctive aesthetic, yet remaining true to the philosophy of the project.

The awards jury were impressed with the commitment shown by the project team to challenging traditional notions of the building typology and bringing forward new thinking about the role and possibilities for a sustainable design approach.
Effingham, United Kingdom
Higher Education, Classroom Buildings, Lecture Hall
St Teresa’s School is an independent girls’ school located in the green belt in the Surrey Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty. The new Sixth Form Centre is the first phase of IF_DO’s 10-year masterplan for St Teresa’s, which aims not only to improve the school’s built fabric, but also to reconnect the primary teaching areas of the site to the natural landscape around it. The masterplan identified the need for a new facility with smaller classrooms to accommodate a university-style teaching experience. It was driven by a collegiate approach and envisages a network of colonnades and courtyards to stitch together existing disparate facilities. The new Sixth Form Centre embodies these principles, with the creation of a new ‘Sixth Form Quad’, and colonnaded walkways integrated into the building. With a very tight budget and an ambitious brief, the design evolved from a principle of modularity and prefabrication. Splitting the building into two discrete blocks allowed for greater construction efficiencies, with more cellular spaces in the ‘teaching block’ (classrooms, offices, common room and study room); and a separate block housing the lecture theatre. The two blocks are joined by a covered link which acts as the main entry point and circulation space and provides a clear visual connection from the Sixth Form Quad to the woodland beyond. Nature pervades the entire scheme - from the formal courtyards to the outdoor ‘woodland’ classroom to the tree growing through the roof canopy at the centre of the plan – the scheme includes a sequence of elements which harness the under-utilised green spaces around it. On the western side of the building two floors of classrooms look out over the new Sixth Form Quad, while the common room and reading room are located at the eastern end of the building, directly overlooking the adjacent woodland. At first floor level the reading room elevates students into the canopy of the surrounding trees—creating a calming and focussed space for study.