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Greenlight for new building at Aston University\

Birmingham City Council approves new ten-storey, 12,000 sq m building, the centrepiece of Aston University's refreshed campus masterplan in central Birmingham.

The new building will create important opportunities for the university to come together with the local community.

The ground floor will be open to the university community and public alike, with a generous new arcade and social spaces and a café to provide spaces to relax, socialise and connect with the new landscaped public realm. A large capacity tiered lecture theatre will be located at one end of the central arcade, while a feature ‘performance stair’ will offer a flexible area for social interaction. The stair will also double as an auditorium for evening lectures and presentations that are open to all.

On the upper floors, the building will incorporate world-class teaching and learning facilities and academic workspace, including flexible lecture theatres, seminar rooms and inspirational study spaces for use by the whole university.

A generous atrium rises through the height of the building, forming the primary circulation. Open, flexible spaces for social learning face onto the atrium, benefitting from natural ventilation, valuable daylight and direct access to external roof terraces to support sustainability and wellbeing.

“This landmark building will serve as a dynamic new front door to Aston’s campus – an interface between the University and the wider city.”

Tom Noonan Partner

The design

Our design includes a civic plinth at ground level with a landmark pavilion above. 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 into and out of the public facing functions.

The upper pavilion is a glazed lantern with a dynamic, playful form that presents a distinctive silhouette within the skyline of Birmingham, particularly when lit at night. The sawtooth form of the pavilion facade is used to control heat gains into the building and facilitate natural ventilation, reducing energy use.

On the ground floor the building is public-facing, with facilities that include a museum-style café with associated social seating and relaxation spaces. A large capacity tiered lecture theatre is located at one end of the central ‘public arcade’. This space incorporates a feature ‘performance stair’ which will offer a flexible area for social interaction. The stair will also double as an auditorium for evening lectures and presentations that are open to all.

Mid-level floors are occupied by flexible teaching spaces, and student and social study areas, whilst the upper floors are dedicated to university staff and workspaces.

A generous atrium rises through the height of the building, forming the primary circulation. Open, flexible spaces for social learning face onto the atrium, benefitting from natural ventilation, valuable daylight and direct access to external roof terraces to support sustainability and wellbeing.

“It is designed as a building of two halves: civic uses are provided in the lower section which opens out onto a landscaped plaza, enabling new public routes to emerging districts such as Birmingham's knowledge quarter.

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 floorplates shift and is designed to deliver new types of flexible spaces for the University well into the future.”

Tom Noonan Partner

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