Plymouth University Marine Building, Hydrodynamics Facility Devon, Architect, Project

Marine Building Plymouth University : Hydrodynamics Facility

Plymouth University Building, Devon, southwest England, UK – design by Burwell Deakins Architects

1 Nov 2012

Marine Building at Plymouth University

A Royal Opening for Burwell Deakins Architects’ World Class Marine Building, Devon, UK

Design: Burwell Deakins Architects

The new state-of-the-art Marine Building at Plymouth University, designed by Burwell Deakins Architects, was opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh yesterday during a royal visit.

Located on the University campus at a prime location within the city, the 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.

Plymouth University Marine Building:
Plymouth University Marine Building
picture : Artography

Built to provide a range of flexible research facilities, work and educational spaces, the new Marine Building also includes a World Class hydrodynamics facility and a dedicated business innovation centre for marine renewable technology.

Professor Wendy Purcell, the Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University said: “Our new Marine Building is a landmark development for the University, the city and the region, and provides a suite of research and teaching facilities to support our world-class academic community and enrich the student experience.”

“The equipment, technical and research expertise we have here will catalyse the marine and maritime sectors, and help attract leading researchers and commercial clients.”

The Coastal Ocean and Sediment Transport (COaST) laboratories form the centre-piece of the scheme, housing a number of wave tanks and flumes in which academics, scientists and engineers can test devices within simulated wave, current and wind conditions.

The main tank will be capable of creating waves more than a metre high for research activities, all of which will be 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 Deakins Architects’ overall strategy for Plymouth University, which encourages a discourse between the building and the streetscape to enliven the campus landscape.

Plymouth University Marine Building Wavepool:
Marine Building at Plymouth University
picture : Artography

The new school has been located at the heart of the Southwest Marine Energy Park, an international focal point for leading marine teaching and research. The civic positioning 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.

Burwell Deakins Architects’ sustainability approach, which prioritises the use of passive measures above expensive technologies, resulted the construction of a highly efficient deep-plan building with natural lighting and ventilation. The scheme’s careful orientation and well-insulated envelopes maximised the environmental performance of the design, as recognised by the building’s BREEAM rating of Excellent.

Solar shading is provided on the south elevation by a series of 3-storey solar fins and a high-performance curtain wall system, which utilises two sets of parallel opening elements at each floor level. The upper set of openers is controlled by a Building Management System, with opening lights allowing the cooling of the exposed concrete soffits at night, whilst the lower set is manually operated to provide occupant comfort at desk level.

This arrangement, in combination with internal floor voids and the high levels of thermal stability intrinsic to the building’s skin and structure, allow the upper levels of the Marine Building to remain naturally ventilated and cooled.

Royal Opening of Plymouth University Marine Building – HRH The Duke of Edinburgh:
Duke of Edinburgh Plymouth University
picture : Artography

Additional sustainability features include a set of photovoltaics and a rainwater harvesting system. In support of the overall campus energy strategy, power and heating are drawn from the University’s local Combined Heat Power plant, allowing the building to act as a valve between Plymouth University’s CHP network and the city beyond.

Informed by Burwell Deakins Architects’ research into the future of academic teaching spaces, the new educational facilities can be easily adapted to provide both open-plan or cellular work spaces, to allow for a mixture of didactic and collaborative teaching methods. The upper floors have also been fitted out with an open-plan research space and a full ‘ship simulator’ suite.

Burwell Deakins Architects

Burwell Deakins Architects is an RIBA Award-winning contemporary design practice, engaged in a wide range of architectural, interior design and master planning projects. Established in 1999 by Nicholas Burwell, the practice is based in design studios in Deptford with satellite facilities in Devon. Burwell Deakins Architects is currently working on several major education projects, including the Marine Building for Plymouth University and has recently completed the new Design School for Loughborough University.

The architectural practice is also working on a range of residential projects, from luxury homes to economic, volume housing. Connecting all projects is the ability to produce built environments that, through extensive consultation, understand the aspirations of clients and end-users.

Burwell Deakins Architects is currently engaged in a research project with Coventry University and furniture company Herman Miller to investigate the changing role that technology and furniture will play in supporting different teaching techniques and how this will affect the design of learning environments.

Marine Building at Plymouth University images / information from Burwell Deakins Architects

Location: Plymouth University, south west England, UK

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