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Loughborough Design School

This award-winning building provides a home for the University of Loughborough’s different design disciplines within an open and transparent environment.

The University sought a new building that not only brought related departments together, but that also communicated the design expertise of academics and students to the industry and the outside world. Close consultation with students and staff allowed the development of a brief that responded to a teaching and research context.

The building’s organisation seeks to encourage collaborative, inter-disciplinary learning, and communication. The workshop, studio and support areas are arranged into three loose-fit elements that respond to the teaching and learning programme for the building. With easy navigation between the various components of the building, the arrangement facilitates an interactive environment for learning while encouraging cross-pollination of activities and ideas, complimented by the provision of more secluded spaces for more focused activities.

An important example of the programmatic strategy was the design of the main lecture theatre. In searching for a spatial solution that offered the potential for both individual and collaborative learning, a bespoke seating design was researched and developed with the client’s team of product designers and ergonomists. Formulated around a series of continuous, snaking benches with shared tables, it explores the relationship between didactic and group teaching, allowing these formats to change constantly without the need for the reorganisation. This was the first example of Burwell Architects ‘Connect’ seating concept which has since been utilised in many higher education projects throughout the world.

Externally the building is carefully composed and visually striking, utilising an exposed concrete frame with Schuco curtain walling, zinc standing seam and honeycomb core cassette rainscreen cladding panels. Internally the concrete frame is exposed and is complemented by a palette of oak veneer acoustic panelling, white walls and bold coloured rubber flooring and signage.

With a BREEAM rating of Excellent, the building has impressive sustainability credentials, predicted to produce less than 20Kg/CO2/msq per year. The building’s sustainability strategy is founded on innovative yet robust natural lighting and ventilation systems, which include a provision for night-time cooling.

Project Team

Client: Loughborough University
Lead Architect: Burwell Architects
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
Services Engineer: Hoare Lea
Main Contractor: Shephard Construction

Project Data

Construction: 2016-18
GIA: 1,300 sqm
Form of Contract: Traditional