The Exchange, Falmouth

The Exchange provides a new social and academic heart for Falmouth and Exeter Universities.

This major addition to Penryn Campus knits together the principles and educational goals of two institutions, Falmouth University, and the University of Exeter, who share the facility. Connected to the existing Daphne Du Maurier library building, The Exchange adds new social, teaching and learning areas to the campus.

Informed by its steep coastal setting overlooking the Fal Estuary, the new building follows the contours of the landscape, rising from one storey at the rear to a prominent three-storey front elevation. The striking glass louvered façades are further animated by the steel canopy and colonnade, which add depth to the elevations and help mediate between the levels. Inside the building, the background material is exposed concrete, with up-lit soffits and softened by oak acoustic panelling.

A new ‘social street’ has been created around a ‘riverine’ metaphor, connecting The Exchange and the library with a flow of exhibition, seating and gathering spaces for student collaboration. The project brings together some of the central goals of the Combined Universities, creating spaces for personal study, group work and socialising that are located close to areas destined for more formal or focused learning. The intention was to create a learning environment where conversations start in lecture theatres and seminar rooms, then carry on in informal settings. Where students can reflect and be able to seek advice and further support. Conceived around this agenda, the spaces are adaptive with teaching rooms fully openable to the circulation with generous folding doors, helping them become part of the ‘social street’.

The design of the new lecture theatre in The Exchange builds on the practice’s award- winning seating and auditorium design. The geometry of the seating means that each row can be used for both traditional didactic lectures and collaborative group work. Lecturers can readily switch between the two modes, without moving to another space.

Project Team

Client: Falmouth University & University of Exeter

Lead Architect: Burwell Architects

Services Engineer: Method

Main Contractor: Leadbitter Group

Project Data

Gross Internal Area: 2,600 sqm

Construction: 2011-13

Form of Contract: Design & Build