Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
The Diamond in South Yorkshire, UK by Twelve Architects
January 13th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Twelve Architects
The ground-breaking Diamond building at The University of Sheffield has now been completed, making a major contribution to the University’s ambition to develop and expand its Faculty of Engineering with world-class facilities for students and academics.
Designed by Twelve Architects* and constructed by Balfour Beatty, the building – named The Diamond after its unique façade – is a 19,500m2 facility, housing specialist engineering laboratories, lecture theatres, large scale flexible teaching spaces, workshops, a learning resource centre and integrated formal and informal study environments for up to 5,000 students. As well as providing a home for many of the University’s Engineering undergraduates, the Diamond provides facilities for a range of other departments, promoting collaboration and cross-disciplinary working in an environment fit for 21st century research and practice.
At £81 million, it is the largest capital investment in teaching and learning ever undertaken by the University, and the brief called for a building that would support its ambition of becoming the UK’s leading engineering university and doubling the size of the Faculty of Engineering by 2021. With applications up by 25% for the current academic year, the client team believes the Diamond has a key role to play in continuing to attract world class academics and the best students.
The external appearance creates a distinctive presence for the Diamond. The anodised aluminium and glass façade draws inspiration from the detailing of the surrounding historic buildings and in particular the stone tracery that frames the windows of the adjacent church. It also references a ‘cellular automaton’, a discrete model studied in the field of engineering and used by the University to describe how the microstructure of steel changes during processing.
The ethos of the building is to support work across the full spectrum of engineering, from fundamental science to professional practice. Twelve Architects’ design provides a public route at ground floor level and a central atrium that enables people to view the ‘showcase’ engineering activities being undertaken.
Within the naturally ventilated atrium, curved ‘pods’ house spaces for informal personal and group learning. Classrooms, laboratories and offices are arranged to the north and south of the atrium with full height glazing to maximise internal views to and from the teaching spaces which display the best of engineering education and research. Rooflights flood the interior with daylight and custom-designed glazed study tables within the first floor atrium allow the natural light to penetrate the ground and lower ground levels whilst creating acoustic separation.
A series of lecture theatres are located at lower ground floor level with a total capacity of 1500 spaces, with the largest lecture theatre seating 400 people.
Speaking about the Diamond, Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities Management at the University of Sheffield said:
“I am very proud of The Diamond building development. Twelve Architects has worked tirelessly to bring forward what I believe is both a fantastic addition to the University estate and Higher Education as a whole. Twelve has interpreted our vision and taken the final scheme even further than we had hoped, providing a truly world class facility to compliment the excellence of the University’s academic endeavour. The Diamond is a truly inspiring building and it’s already clear that it’s proving a major attraction.”
Professor Mike Hounslow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Engineering, added:
“It has been a real pleasure to work with the team at Twelve Architects and it has been a very productive relationship. They have listened to and understood our needs and vision, and together we have worked closely to challenge, test and develop the brief and design. The result of this very engaging process is ‘The Diamond’, a world class facility for the Faculty of Engineering and the whole of the University of Sheffield.”
Matt Cartwright, Twelve Architects’ Founding Director commented:
“We are extremely proud of this, our first completed project in the UK, and are delighted that the client has received it so positively. Working so closely with the team at the University to translate their vision into a building that surpassed their original expectations has been both enjoyable and fulfilling and the trust they put in us to deliver their largest academic project to date was immense.”
RIBA stages A-E were completed by the core members of Twelve Architects whilst employed by RMJM. Twelve Architects completed the design and delivery of the construction with Balfour Beatty Construction.
Twelve Architects is an international architectural practice based in London, creating distinctive and memorable designs for projects across a range of sectors, in the UK and overseas.
Our philosophy is employed at every level, to enable our employees, fellow consultants and clients to collaborate and utilise their individual expertise to enhance the full potential of a project and to deliver a shared vision.
We approach to all projects, regardless of scale or budget, is to gain a clear understanding of the objectives and aspirations of our clients.
We designs are based on the principles of simplicity, attention to detail and intelligent use of materials.
We believe the design process should be inclusive, imaginative, structured and fun. Our architecture is defined by context and culture and is styled by function. We question what is black and white to inspire the unexpected.
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