Berrick Saul Building University of York Architect: BDP Location: York, UK Completion: 2009 GFA: 3,000 m2 Photography: David Barbour / BDP
BDP was appointed by the University of York in 2006 to design a research building to accommodate the Humanities Research Centre (HRC) and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE). The centre is named after the University’s former Vice Chancellor as the Berrick Saul Building. The site is in a prominent location at the centre of the Heslington West parkland campus, adjacent to the iconic Central Hall and the university lake. Sited on the University-owned land, the planning constraints were limited, apart from the need to ensure that the Central Hall remains the dominant landmark on the campus. The building brief required a mixture of dedicated departmental workspace, shared accommodation and a new campus wide IT server room. Integration with landscape, sustainability, a venue for conferences of international standing, promotion of inter disciplinary working, and the creation of a distinctive flagship building for IEE and HRC were identified as key requirements by the client.
East elevation (facing Spring Wood)
From the outset the major design concept was to create a strong connection with nature, encapsulated by the idea of “studying in the trees”. This led to the development of the building’s curved plan form which wraps around a mature tulip tree, turning a constraint into an opportunity, hugging the edge of Spring Wood. Placing the building on the east of the site allowed the creation of a new public space to the west, greatly improving the setting for the Central Hall especially when approached from the north. The Berrick Saul Building is comprised of two main elements: a sinuous curved wing of accommodation and three circular pods (one enclosed large pod and two open pods for escape stairs). The long elevations of the curved spine feature zinc cladding to upper levels on a base of either glazing or timber, depending on location. All circular pods are clad in timber boarding. They are connected to the main spine via either glazed or open links, which ensure that the primary building constituents are clearly expressed as separate elements. Zinc and timber were chosen for their “natural” character and their ability to accommodate the complex geometry of the building. The detailing of the zinc and timber has been carefully considered to give a tactile and hand crafted appearance, in keeping with the surroundings of Spring Wood.
Section through curved wing
The main curved wing comprises a mixture of cellular and open-plan office accommodation for researchers at upper levels with a large “treehouse” pod providing opportunities for study and seminars at first floor level and specialist educational psychology labs on the floor above. At ground level the treehouse becomes a lecture theatre, and the main wing accommodates a generous foyer, seminar rooms, split level post graduate study space and an IT server room.
1. View of the west-facing façade 2. View from southwest 3. View from east 4. Panorama from west
Published on Mar 17, 2011
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