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BVN Stories — September 28, 2022

BVN partners with Twelve Architect on Sheffield University project

London practice Twelve Architects and Australia’s BVN Architecture have won the University of Sheffield’s competition to design a £37 million Central Teaching Laboratory (CTL)

They will now deliver a 6,950m² ‘flexible, multi-faceted teaching laboratory’ on a corner site a short distance from the university’s RMJM-designed Information Commons library, providing a new focus for the university’s main Western Bank Campus.

The team was one of three shortlisted in the restricted competition. Each received a £25,000 honorarium to participate in the second phase. The two other finalists have not been named.

While images of their outline concept sketch have yet to be revealed, the team said its winning design was chosen for its student-first model, which proposes a series of super-labs alongside ‘sticky space’ where students and staff can interact, collaborate and learn.

The design also includes green spaces and biophilic design throughout the building, harnessing renewable energy sources in both build and operation. The scheme is planned to complete in 2026.

The university campus was the site of Twelve Architects’ first finished UK project, the £81 million building for the Faculty of Engineering, known as The Diamond, which completed in 2015.

Twelve Architects director Lorraine Stoutt Griffith said: ‘Our concept for CTL emphasises a student-first model that has already been a great success at The Diamond and the Thomas Street Science Building, UTS [in Sydney].

‘The design we’ve proposed, in collaboration with BVN, will support the university’s ambition to be a world leader in the teaching of science and related subjects. We’ve paid particular attention to the arrangement of the different types of space within the building to ensure that all types of teaching and learning are enabled.’

BVN principal Matthew Blair described the proposed building as a ‘new kind of lab experience for students and academics’. He said: ‘We look forward to creating an experience that will appeal to students from across the world. For us, innovation comes from thinking about something differently, listening to the opinions of others and questioning the status quo.

‘Using these principles, we can create an environment where people feel a sense of belonging and connection, where students and researchers can collaborate, and perhaps even where the next Nobel Prize winners will emerge.’

The University of Sheffield has around 27,000 full-time and part-time students from 143 countries and was named The Times’s UK University of the Year 10 years ago. The latest contest comes three years after Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and HLM clinched an £85 million pair of key mixed-use regeneration schemes in the nearby city centre – part of which is now nearing completion.

Landmark buildings within Sheffield’s main campus include GMW’s 78m-high Arts Tower and RMJM’s prepatinated copper-clad Information Commons which finished in 2007. Ridge and Partners won a contest for a £2.5-to-£3 million centre for sustainable fuels at the university’s new Advanced Manufacturing Campus in Tinsley three years ago.

Published by The Architect's Journal 28.9.22

This project forms part of the evolving portfolio of work by BVN Europe, based in our UK studio.

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