Green light for Aston’s lantern
The building represents the first step in the redevelopment plan for the Aston University campus.
The ground floor will be open to the public. The upper floors will be used for teaching facilities and university workspace. This includes flexible amphitheatres, seminar rooms and study spaces.
Hawkins Brown was appointed to design the building following a competition in 2019 and leads a team of consultants that includes Price & Myers, Hoare Lea and Ridge & Partners.
Aston University’s case was for a new building at the heart of its campus in central Birmingham that would serve as a destination to attract people to the campus, capitalizing on new and existing transport links as the university was reconsidering its connections with the surrounding city through a new master plan.
Hawkins Brown’s design includes a civic plinth at ground level with a lantern-shaped pavilion above it. The plinth addresses the surrounding campus and public realm and is wrapped in a colonnade formed of pigmented precast concrete, with full-height glazing that allows views in and out of functions facing the public.
The upper pavilion is a glazed lantern designed to present a distinctive silhouette in the Birmingham skyline, especially when illuminated at night. The sawtooth shape of the pavilion facade is used to control heat gains in the building and facilitate natural ventilation, thereby reducing energy consumption.
On the ground floor, the building faces the public, with facilities including a café. A multi-level amphitheater sits at one end of the central public arcade. This space incorporates a “performance staircase” feature offering a flexible space for conferences and presentations open to all. The middle floors are occupied by flexible teaching spaces and areas of social and student studies, while the upper floors are dedicated to academic staff and workspaces. An atrium rises across the height of the building, forming the main circulation.
Tom Noonan, Partner at Hawkins Brown, said: “This historic building will serve as a dynamic new gateway to the Aston University campus – an interface between the university and the city at large. It is designed as a building in two parts: civic uses are planned in the lower part which opens onto a landscaped square, allowing new public routes to emerging neighborhoods such as the Birmingham Knowledge District.
“Above this plinth is a more playful ‘lantern’ which contains learning spaces and academic offices. The dynamic and visually striking lantern offers roof terraces where the ground plates move and is designed to provide new types of flexible spaces for the university in the future.
Ian Oldacre, Director of Domains at Aston University, said: “Our ambitious campus vision defines our aspiration to invest significantly in building a ‘destination campus’ to meet demands and opportunities. changes facing universities.
“The future growth of Aston University will encompass evolving trends such as online and distance learning, greater connectivity, growth in the number of international students and closer collaboration with business partners and the business community.
“This iconic new building represents the first step in our master plan and our long-term strategy. We have worked closely with our partners at Birmingham City Council to develop an iconic statute building, not only for Aston University, but for the City of Birmingham.