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Two Norfolk buildings designed by LSI Architects are finalists in ‘Best Architecture project’

LSI Architects has announced that the new sixth form boarding facilities at Wymondham College and the new INTO University of East Anglia, two buildings based in Norfolk, designed by the Norwich and London based practice, were finalists in the 2009 Creative East Awards for ‘Best Architecture project in the UK by Architects of the Eastern region’ (from March 2007 to December 2008). The prestigious award ceremony took place at the Theatre Royal, Norwich last Friday, 8th May. The best architecture award went to Nicolas Tye Architects for the Long Barn. The annual Creative East Awards recognise, celebrate and reward the wealth of creative talent across the Eastern region. Clive Anderson compered the event and was joined on stage by other celebrity presenters and business leaders.

Wymondham College Sixth Form Centre

The Creative East Awards Finalist. The new Sixth Form boarding facilities at Wymondham College. From left to right: Exterior view at south wing; View along walkway towards stage; View of courtyard towards Lincoln Hall; View of refectory area. All images credited to: LSI Architects LLP. Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988: Reproduction is permitted providing authorship is credited.

The new, £6.75 million expansion scheme which provides sixth form boarding facilities at Wymondham College is a ‘wishbone’ style extension to an existing boarding block, with 115 ensuite single study bedrooms and support accommodation, library, IT rooms, communal activity spaces and an expansion of the existing dining facilities. The new building links to the existing Lincoln Hall building to provide a single base for all Year 12 and Year 13 pupils. Wymondham College is both the UK’s largest State Boarding School and one of the few State Boarding schools in the country, classified by the DfES as a ‘Successful and Popular’ School.

The main concept behind the design for the new complex was to provide all residents with a view outwards over the Norfolk countryside, from rooms organised in three and four-storey wings arranged around a large, landscaped courtyard. Access to the new wings is via a covered walkway surrounding the new courtyard. The wings meet in a dramatic westward pointing ‘prow', which is clearly visible on entry into the campus. This prominent end to the building is facetted and glazed giving it a strong three-dimensional quality and is the point at which the three storey southern wing meets the four-storey northern wing.

There are clear visual links between the design of the building and its landscape setting, which create a strong character and sense of place within the courtyard. The straight and curved wings define a courtyard of asymmetrical shape and provide a sense of enclosure to a space which offers possibilities for a variety of activities. The building also features a range of sustainable materials and uses renewable energy technologies. The sustainability agenda has been a key determinant of the design. The highly insulated building has exposed concrete surfaces internally to provide cooling in the summer, has hot water produced by solar panels, and is largely ventilated by natural means.

Pre fabricated factory finished bathroom ‘pods’ were selected to ensure that high quality zero defect en-suite facilities would be associated with each study bedroom. The structural solution utilises a reinforced concrete frame with alternate crosswalls constructed in concrete and masonry.

Melvyn Roffe, Principal of Wymondham College and current Chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association, commented: “Our new accommodation takes Sixth Form boarding education to a new level.”

Phil Cowen of Cowen Consulting, the Project Manager for the scheme, said: "From the outset the College’s brief required a building that provided a bridge between school and university and defined the sixth form within the campus. Hearing the positive comments, from the staff and students alike, underlines that it has been a rewarding process for all on the Project Team to have worked with the College to assist them to realise their aspirations for the new Boarding Block.”

LSI Project Associate, Jeremy O’Rourke, said: “The new building makes a bold, contemporary architectural statement, with large areas of white render, timber cladding and glazing. The idea is that the new building provides high quality accommodation akin to that which the student may experience at University. To this end, the design concept allows each new room to enjoy distant views, whilst making a diverse range of activities possible within the landscaped courtyard at the heart of the scheme. Here there is a stage for performance, places for outdoor lessons and areas for the display of students’ art.”

Wymondham College sixth form boarding facilities won three South Norfolk Council's Design Awards last year for ‘Design Excellence’, the ‘New Building’ and for ‘Landscape’. Judges were so ‘stunned’ by the quality of the new centre that they created the new, special Award for ‘Design Excellence’.

The Project Team

Client: Wymondham College

Architects: LSI Architects

Project Manager: Cowen Consulting

Services Engineer: Integrated Building Services

Contractors: RG Carter

Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon

Structural Engineer: Ramboll Whitbybird

Landscape Architect: Sheils Flynn

Landscape Contractor: GDC Ltd

Planning Supervisor: D Mulley Associates

INTO University of East Anglia

The Creative East Awards Finalist. INTO University of East Anglia, the new £30M study centre for international students. From left to right: Exterior courtyard in the residential block; Looking up in the academic building’s central atrium; Social space on a first floor balcony; Circulation in the academic building. All images credited to: Richard Osbourne – blue pearl photographic. Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988: Reproduction is permitted providing authorship is credited.

INTO University of East Anglia, a new £30M study centre for international students, based at the UEA campus in Norwich, was completed last October. The first of many world-class international study centres planned by INTO, this state-of-the-art centre provides new academic and teaching facilities with 415 new student residences comprising study bedrooms with ensuite facilities. The INTO University of East Anglia Centre is a joint venture between INTO and the University, providing a wide range of pathway courses for international students.

The 5-storey academic and residential buildings are the pathfinder development project for London based client INTO. The 136,900 square feet of stylish, learning and accommodation facilities on the campus include multi-purpose lecture theatres, classrooms, IT and science laboratories and flexible teaching and self-study space – all integrated with study-bedrooms with ensuite facilities. The scheme also incorporates a centralised restaurant and student support services. The residential accommodation has been configured in groups (of between six and twelve) to encourage social interaction around communal group kitchen/dining spaces.

Circulation space is intended to facilitate access for people with disabilities and provide for level thresholds, wheelchair turning / passing areas, and suitable door and corridor widths. Wheelchair accessible rooms have been included for people with disabilities, with an increased floor area and furniture /fittings to be specified according to the needs of individuals.

Martin Ebdell, INTO’s Construction Director, commented: “We are delighted with the outstanding quality of the design of the INTO Centre. The new scheme has been designed to meet INTO’s exceptionally high quality standards. LSI Architects and contractor R.G. Carter have clearly demonstrated their expertise in designing and building respectively educational facilities and accommodation. The project has also met the very tight 18 month construction programme. The INTO initiative has been created in partnership with UK universities to develop their internationalisation strategies and improve the UK’s competitiveness in international student markets. This project is one of a new generation of international study centres under development at the Universities of Exeter, Glasgow Caledonian, Newcastle and Oregon State, whilst discussions are also being held with other leading universities.”

David Thompson, a Principal Member of LSI Architects, commented: “The plans for the new INTO Centre were drawn up following lengthy negotiations to accommodate a wide range of viewpoints and has involved widespread consultation, particularly with local residents. The layout and arrangement of the accommodation have been devised with a culturally sensitive approach to design. To achieve the ‘fast track’ construction programme, the residential accommodation utilised ‘tunnelform’ in-situ concrete construction, with the bathrooms constructed as off-site prefabricated pods.”

The INTO Centre project contributes towards LSI Architects’ masterplan for a new piazza at the east end of the campus, framed by already completed healthcare and nursery facilities and student residences, all designed by the practice. The student residences were constructed in two phases. Phase 1, Colman House, comprises 400 high standard study bedrooms with ensuite facilities within two blocks, including six fully accessible rooms for students with disabilities. Phase 2 was completed this summer. This provides 900 additional bedrooms in five blocks.

The unique business model offers control to the University over academic standards at INTO Centres while bringing private-sector resources and expertise to the venture. INTO already had a temporary base at UEA with some 350 overseas students studying English academic foundation and English language programmes that prepare them for their chosen university courses.

The Project Team

Client: INTO East Anglia LP

Project Managers: Gardiner & Theobald

Architects: LSI Architects

Main Contractor: RG Carter

Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon

Structural & Civil Engineers, Mechanical & Electrical Engineers, Acoustic Engineers and Fire Consultants: WSP.

LSI Architects was also responsible for the University of East Anglia SRIF Programme, involving university space reallocation, refurbishment and reconfiguration in order to modernise the science and arts teaching and research facilities within the Grade 2 listed ‘Teaching Wall’ of the UEA.

Email: carri@carismacommunications.co.uk


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