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Thursday, March 12, 2009

University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, United Kingdom

RMJM meet difficult challenge in blending iconic new building into its surroundings

The University Campus Suffolk Waterfront building, designed by RMJM, is the flagship of the UCS urban campus and the first building of the Ipswich Education Quarter. It opened in September 2008. The 10,500m² Waterfront building supports flexible learning with open study on all floors and points where students can access networked computers. The flexible layout, coupled with balconies overlooking one another enables excellent interaction between staff and students. The ground floor contains a reception area with digital screens presenting upcoming lectures and seminars, a large exhibition space as well as public and breakout space, provide an informal meeting focus point for students and academic staff.

For UCS, the aspiration was to create a campus that consists of contemporary and timeless buildings, flexible enough to cope with future changes in teaching and learning, and demonstrably sustainable. Throughout the process the success of the project was measured against the following aspirational adjectives, established by UCS: innovative – bold – flexible – sustainable – student centred – integrated– implementable.

Meeting the UCS aspirations and urban design issues was a major challenge.The design matches the scale of the adjacent waterfront development at seven storeys, then dramatically sweeps down to the two storeys of the medieval buildings on Fore Street. Linking the two different scales is the unique and innovative 20 degree sloping green roof. This provides acoustic insulation, thermal mass, increases bio-diversity, helps retain water to reduce impact on local services infrastructure, and ultimately achieved an excellent BREEAM rating.
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