Newcastle University has appointed London-based architecture practice Hawkins\Brown, in conjunction with BuroHappold and BD Landscapes, to design a £50 million ‘living lab’ on Science Central, following an Invited Design competition led by Newcastle University with advice from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Science Central is one of the UK’s largest city centre development sites based on the former Scottish & Newcastle Brewery in Newcastle, and is being delivered by Newcastle Science City in conjunction with partners Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council.
The competition called for architect-led teams to design a distinct and recognisable building which would underpin the University’s core theme of digitally enabled urban sustainability environments.
The 10,000 sqm ‘living lab’ will be the first independent Newcastle University building on Science Central, and is expected to open at the beginning of the academic year in September 2017.
Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability at Newcastle University said: “Our vision on Science Central is to provide a unique environment where internationally renowned engineers and scientists can work together with Newcastle City Council, industry, communities and emerging technologies, to find solutions to global urban sustainability challenges.
“The team at Hawkins\Brown demonstrated an excellent understanding of the brief to create something unique that would embody our commitment to sustainability and innovation by creating an environment that would be open, creative, inclusive and entrepreneurial.”
As well as flexible academic spaces, the building will include dedicated start-up business incubator space, public workshop and demonstration spaces, a ‘digital’ library / learning centre and a café with social spaces to create informal learning opportunities.
Roger Hawkins, partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “Our design for Newcastle University’s first building on Science Central is inspired by our extensive experience in the higher education sector and the university’s ambition to open its doors to attract the very best students, researchers and industry partners. We look forward to working closely with the staff and students to provide a highly flexible and sustainable learning and research space.”
The 24-acre site will become an exemplar in sustainable urban development, attracting leading edge science and technology organisations to a mixed new community which will encompass a variety of educational, business, residential and leisure uses.
The judging panel included Newcastle University Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Brink, senior academics from the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering, representatives from the Estate Support Service and University Council, together with John Whiles (Jestico + Whiles) acting as the RIBA Architect Adviser to the competition. Designs for the building are expected to be completed over coming months.
Enabling, infrastructure and public realm works are underway on Science Central to make the site development ready, with construction of the first building, The Core, already underway. Owned by Newcastle City Council, The Core is due to open in Autumn 2014.