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Marine Building, University of Plymouth

This world-class hydrodynamic research building provides work and academic spaces and a dedicated innovation centre for marine renewable technology.

Situated at the main entrance to the University campus, and a major thoroughfare through the city, the Marine Building acts as a symbol of Plymouth’s eminence in marine sciences, encouraging a dialogue between the city, its academic institutions, and the wider world. The building has been designed with a very technical specification, to catalyse the marine and maritime sectors, and help attract leading researchers and commercial clients.

Central to the project are the Coastal Ocean and Sediment Transport (COaST) laboratories which house a number of wave tanks and flumes, in which academics, scientists and industry professionals can test devices within simulated wave, current and wind conditions. The Coastal Basin wave tank fills the centre of the building, one of the largest of its specification in the world. It can create waves more than a metre high for testing the hydrodynamics of sea-craft and other purposes. This is an impressive spectacle that is clearly visible to the public from the pedestrian spaces at the base of the building. The decision to locate the principal functions of the building at pedestrian level works in accordance with Burwell Architects overall strategy for Plymouth University, which encourages a discourse between the building and the streetscape to activate and enliven the life of the university.

The role of the building as a public face for the university is reinforced through the quality of the design and innovative use of locally sourced materials, such as the Plymouth limestone ashlar walling which supports the main colonnade. It is an efficient deep plan and flat floored building, which is naturally lit and ventilated. The south elevation is provided with solar shading by a series of three-storey solar fins. This arrangement in combination with internal floor voids, allow the upper levels of the building to be naturally ventilated and cooled. The scheme’s careful orientation and highly insulated envelope has resulted in a high- performance environmental design with a BREEAM rating of Excellent.

Project Team

Client: University of Plymouth
Lead Architect: Burwell Architects
Project Manager: Turner & Townsend
Structural Engineer: Curtins
Consulting Services Engineer: Aecom
Quantity Surveyor: Gardiner & Theobald
Planning Supervisor: Waterman
Health & Safety Main Contractor: Leadbitter

Project Data

Net Internal Area: 4,500 sqm
Construction: 2010-12
Form of Contract: Design & Build