University of Manchester Schuster Annexe\

Developing entrepreneurial flair alongside technical excellence

Accommodating unprecedented growth in Physics demand, the new annexe is designed to become a catalyst for excellence in STEM teaching and learning.

The Challenge

In response to a constrained corner site, the annexe is designed with accommodation stacked across four floors. The new building had to connect into the existing circulation and lift accommodation within the Schuster Building to provide seamless and barrier-free connections for all staff and students of the Physics department.

The Big Idea

Part of phase 1 of the university's campus masterplan, the Schuster Annexe has been designed to extend the Physics department; famed for where the material Graphene was isolated by Nobel-prize winning professors in 2004.

At the heart of the building is the Ideas Mill, an innovative flexible teaching space that extends the possibilities for new teaching modes and professional skills in the department. The Ideas Mill will also extend the outreach activities of the department and provide a venue for schools and industry.

The building delivers circa 2,500sqm of accommodation across four floors, organised with the Ideas Mill and breakout spaces at ground floor, two linked floors of teaching laboratories and project spaces, and a top floor of academic office accommodation. The annexe is designed to connect into the existing circulation and lobby entrance within in the Schuster Building, providing seamless connections with the academics and student’s occupying other parts of the Physics Department.

The annexe completed in October 2017 and the design was delivered to BIM Level 2 requirements.

  • Project Details
  • Sustainability

Project Summary

Project Team

Project Manager and Cost Consultant: Arcadis
Multi-Disciplinary Engineer: WYG
Landscape Architects: Planit-ie


  • Education Estates Awards 2018 - Inspiring Learning Spaces - Shortlisted
  • RIBA Awards 2018 - North West Regional Award - Shortlisted
  • Construction News Awards 2018 - Project of the Year (Under £15m) - Finalist


A low cost, high value passive approach was adopted to achieve maximum value within a tight budget. In targeting and achieving the required credits to achieve a BREEAM Very Good rating, Schuster Annexe was designed with the following factors in mind - air quality, availability of natural light throughout the building, controlled acoustic environments, reliance on staircases rather than lifts to improve fitness, good thermal comfort and controls and an interior design that supports a social learning environment.

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