Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts: LICA

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts, LICA Campus Building Project, Design News

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts, England

LICA Development, northwest England higher education building design by Sheppard Robson, UK

15 Jun 2011

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts

Sheppard Robson designs UK’s first BREEAM Outstanding higher education project at Lancaster University

Leading architecture practice Sheppard Robson has completed the UK’s first BREEAM Higher Education Outstanding project, the £10m Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts (LICA).

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts: LICA Building
image from architects

LICA is an inspiring new facility, which offers a range of flexible performance and workshop spaces to support teaching and research in Art, Design, Film Studies, Music and Theatre Studies. The facility also houses Imagination at Lancaster, an exploratory design research lab. Research in LICA is rated in the UK’s top 3 for quality with 80% classed as world or internationally leading. The building embodies design quality and creativity, but is first and foremost a showcase for the creative activities that take place inside.

The design was developed from an exploration of the interplay between nature and the manmade, inspired by the building’s woodland setting. Daylight floods the teaching and research areas and light timber finishes lend both brightness and texture to the interiors. The highly innovative pre-fabricated and cross-laminated timber structure provides high levels of air tightness and enabled a quick and safe construction programme.

James Jones, Associate at Sheppard Robson, commented: “From the outset the LICA project was an exercise in the architectural effects of material, natural light and sustainability as much as the creation of efficient, functional space. It was great to work with a client as fascinated with these questions as we are. The University’s bold decision to embrace cross-laminated timber construction has been duly rewarded with the achievement of this first higher education BREEAM Outstanding rating.”

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts building interior - dance
image from architects

Mark Swindlehurst, Lancaster University Director of Facilities said: “We are delighted that Lancaster has been recognised as a pioneer of sustainable building in the HE sector. The whole team should be proud of this latest achievement.

“As part of a £350m investment into the campus, Lancaster has so far delivered nine new buildings which have been rated BREEAM Excellent and is also implementing dozens of projects to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% over the next three years.”

ID:SR, Sheppard Robson’s specialist interior design team, created an informal interior that allows individuals to shape their local environment to their own needs. Moving away from the traditional cellular working spaces, innovative open plan accommodation for University academics embraces collaboration and interdisciplinary experimentation. Bright, vibrant palettes reflect the University’s branding and complement the natural neutrality of the base-build.

Sheppard Robson has also just been listed as one of the Sunday Times Top 60 Best Green Companies 2011 (ranked 40th). This is the first time that Sheppard Robson has entered the award, which recognises the practice’s integrated approach to sustainability across both business operations and architecture and design.

Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts – LICA images / information received 150611

Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, architect : Sheppard Robson

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts Building


15 Jul 2009

Sheppard Robson has been granted planning permission for the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts (LICA) – a highly sustainable timber panel structural building that will provide cutting edge performance space.

Located on Lancaster University’s Parkland Campus, the 300m² LICA will provide a northern anchor and gateway for the campus’ new student focused public space.

Three double height interlinked social spaces form the central block of accommodation and an upper floor will house open plan offices.

LICA Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts
images from architects

The frame is wrapped in translucent polycarbonate rainscreen cladding, forming an innovative ‘timber light-box’ – although the cladding remains consistent around the building, the adaptable internal walls filter varying degrees of light through the skin.

Sustainability was paramount to LICA, home to Imagination@Lancaster – a major research group developing sustainable design solutions for the 21st century.

Sheppard Robson responded by designing a building with the potential to surpass the current “BREEAM Excellent rating” and become the UK’s first education project to achieve the new “BREEAM Outstanding” target.

James Jones, Project Architect, confirms Sheppard Robson’s intentions to showcase a building with the latest green credentials now planning has been secured:

“Securing planning consent is great news for Sheppard Robson; now we have the chance to raise the standard of green design in the education sector”

“Once a timber panel structural solution was agreed, the opportunity to design a highly sustainable building progressed, far exceeding statutory requirements for insulation; providing natural ventilation of workspaces; reduced energy consumption and the specification of ‘Class A’ materials with low environmental impact.”

The building is located within a woodland setting and the building will explore the relationship between artefact and nature, showcasing the institute’s artistic practice.

A proposal is also being developed to spread “Imagination Bubbles” – small portable rooms for collaborative experimentation – out of the building to populate public spaces and nestle under the canopy of the adjacent wood.

The building is designed to encourage visitors into LICA and to allow LICA a base from which to flow out across the campus, the country and internationally. It will be the basis for redevelopment of the entire northern ‘arts’ sector of the campus and a place to encourage collaboration across disciplines both within the institute and with those outside.

Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts images / information from Sheppard Robson

Location: Lancaster University, England, UK

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Engineering Building Lancaster University
image from John McAslan + Partners
Engineering Building at Lancaster University

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