LocationHertfordshire International College, Hatfield AL10 9AB, United Kingdom
QS and Project ManagerTurner & Townsend
Main ContractorBouygues UK
M&ECouch Perry Wilkes
Landscape ArchitectThe Landscape Partnership
Text description provided by the architects. Work is complete on the 9,000m2 Sheppard Robson-designed New Science Building, which occupies a prominent site at the heart of the University of Hertfordshire’s College Lane Campus, Hatfield. A major element of the university’s 2020 Vision, the building has been designed as a simple orthogonal structure that is derived from the cellular grid of the flexible laboratory spaces within.
Whilst optimised internally, the external envelope has been carefully finessed and tuned to signal the arrival of a major new facility at the university: a distinctive cladding system animates the building, whilst also helping the structure achieve BREEAM Excellent.
Cutaways from the regular shape of the building work to articulate the position of the entrance and this key access point is further emphasised by a high-level terrace above. This main entrance will align with a new prominent route through the campus, with a new vista visually connecting the building with a major new student residential development and new public space.
The entrance and outdoor terrace are also punctuated by a copper mesh that is encased in glass; this maintains the rich colour of the material which creates a dialogue with the patinated copper-coloured cladding that characterises the exterior of the building.
A feeling of robustness and quality also runs through the internal spaces. The building’s main atrium has large expanses of exposed concrete, with drama added to the main circulation space – which includes a café – through a steel cantilevered staircase.
Tony Poole, Partner at Sheppard Robson, said: “The building had to do more than provide technically excellent and controlled spaces within a box. We wanted the architectural language to be a beacon for the University’s ambitions, with a finely tuned and bold response that did not comprise on efficiency.”
Product Description. Fins – made from expanded aluminium mesh – wrap around the three solar exposed elevations of the five-storey building and act as a veil, unifying the architectural form of the structure. The regular, vertical elements allow the internal spaces to be easily and flexibly reconfigured, whilst also covering the extensive plant on the upper floor, which is required for creating the carefully controlled internal spaces required. The façade design boosts the sustainable credentials of the project by providing solar shading whilst allowing natural light to penetrate through into the deep floorplates.
Further animating the façade, the fins change direction depending on the type of internal space, with the lab areas ranging from 300m2 teaching spaces to more focused, specialist environments. This is a subtle variation, but when the building is viewed in bright conditions or illuminated at night, it brings a richness of depth and variation to the façade.