Images released by the design team at Sheppard Robson reveal the building’s sweeping curve that has been designed to visually connect two public spaces that are adjacent to the project, and sit within the Science Central masterplan. This curve is formed of a ‘Learning Arc’ that is positioned around the triangular form of a flexible auditorium.
On the ground floor plan, an internal street mediates between the more formal, focused spaces of the auditorium and the social, interactive spaces in the Learning Arc. The latter includes an exhibition space and café for more informal working, addressing the University’s mission to provide a range of collaborative learning and social spaces. Directly above this are three storeys of learning facilities, including office accommodation for the University’s Business School.
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 sub-divided the planet into hexagonal zones, has been expressed in expanded aluminum 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.
The scheme includes the creation of a significant area of new public realm, which will connect Science Square, with a softer landscaped Knowledge Square. Terracing will step down from this pocket park, with the landscaping scheme continuing to wrap around the building along Draymans Way. Integral to the landscape design is a discrete sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS), which slows down and holds back rainwater run-off from the site.
Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Newcastle University, said: “Newcastle University is committed to continue to invest in quality facilities to deliver an outstanding student experience and excellent environment for our students’ learning, teaching and research, as well as their personal and professional development. The Learning and Teaching Centre will go a long way towards helping to achieve these goals and helping us to provide excellent opportunities to our students.
“The Learning and Teaching Centre will feature state-of-the art learning facilities for up to 2,200 students across three floors. The centre will also provide exhibition space, café and expansive social learning spaces. Its oyster shell shape, with a dynamic sweeping glazed curve is a reference to the centre’s location on Oystershell Lane and reflects the history of the site.”
Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council added: “Securing planning approval for the centre is another huge step forward for Newcastle Science Central, which will see significant development over the next five years.”
“From its days as the Elswick Colliery – to its time as the home to the Scottish and Newcastle brewery – this site has always been a place where innovation, industry and community grew side-by-side. This new education and teaching facility has innovation at its heart, and will help create the skills needed for future generations.”
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.”