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13 Sep 2021

New building’s nod to heritage reaps prestigious reward

The University of Wolverhampton’s new £45 million School of Architecture and Built Environment has built further on its success by scooping a coveted top prize at the Constructing Excellence Midlands Awards 2021.

CE Midlands is the organisation charged with driving the change agenda within the East and West Midlands Construction industry through collaborative working.

The new School, which opened in August 2020, clinched the Conservation and Regeneration Award at the ceremony held in Edgbaston recently.

The new building, designed by Associated Architects and delivered by ISG, is the latest addition to the University’s £120m investment in a new construction excellence campus at the former Springfield Brewery site in the city - a brownfield regeneration project which has transformed the site. The 7,900 square metre build used a mix of pre-cast white concrete, bronze metal cladding and glazing over three floors. An impressive saw-tooth roof echoes the historic industrial buildings that stood on the site.

Richard Perry, Director Associated Architects, said:

“The transformation of a Grade II listed brewery on the 12-acre Springfield Campus was an amazing project to work on.

“The building is a flagship development which preserves the legacy of industrial heritage whilst delivering state of the art teaching facilities for future construction professionals. The bespoke and highly detailed precast concrete façade utilises the material’s sculptural qualities to echo this relationship between past and present.

“One of our main priorities in design was to ensure that we kept as much of the original building and features as was physically possible. The footprint of the atrium echoes a courtyard long since lost and the original ceremonial archway detail on the historical main entrance to the site, that features ornate ironwork in the form hops and barley (two of the key ingredients in the brewing process), was used as inspiration for a bespoke design running throughout the building, expressed internally in feature metalwork on the atrium staircase and main reception, and externally in etched concrete panels.

“Comprehensive repairs have ensured that the retained buildings were sensitively restored; ensuring that the layers of history, character of the buildings and a physical record of the adaption of the site over the years was retained. We also made use of original cobblestones and at the heart of the building the original chimney and water tower rise above all else.”

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to see the work by all of our partners recognised through winning this prestigious award.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the sympathetic treatment in design, taking into account the old and the new, was crucial for this flagship building which takes pride of place on our £120 million brownfield regeneration project which sits right at the heart of the Black Country.

“Springfield Brewery was, and is now again, an iconic landmark and the architectural design, which was driven by our desire to conserve as much of the original building as possible, has played a really important part in bringing the past together with the present to create something incredible for the future.”

The new School of Architecture and Built Environment offers specialist teaching and social learning spaces, design studios, specialist labs, multi-disciplinary workshops, lecture theatre, cafe, offices, meeting rooms, ICT rooms and a top floor super studio with double height ceilings. It provides space for nearly 1,100 existing students and 65 staff, with the number of students projected to grow over time to 1,600.

The school specialises in supporting skills in architecture, construction, civil engineering, building control, building services, facilities management, quantity surveying, planning, construction management, housing and commercial.

The Springfield redevelopment project is being project managed by Rider Levett Bucknall and is being managed by the University’s Estates and Facilities Team. The design team was made up of Associated Architects, who have designed the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, the School of Architecture and Built Environment and the National Brownfield Institute (NBI), conservation advisors Rodney Melville & Partners, mechanical and engineering by Couch Perry Wilkes, quantity surveying by Faithful and Gould and structural and civils engineer Atkins, providing landscape architecture. Delta Planning have worked on the NBI planning application submission.

The Springfield project is funded by the Black Country LEP, the European Regional Development Fund, the Government’s Growth Deals and the former Higher Education Funding Council for England. It is also sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Wedge Group Galvanizing.

The University’s partnership with City of Wolverhampton Council has also been crucial to the successful completion of the project.

Home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College (UTC), the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, and the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, the regeneration of the former Springfield Brewery is central to the University’s vision of enhancing the student experience and supporting business growth. It will also be home to the University’s new National Brownfield Research Institute for which the University recently secured £14.9 million funding from the BCLEP through the government’s Get Building Fund.

Find out more about the Springfield regeneration project here.

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.

For more information contact the Corporate Communications Team 01902 322736/518647 or out of office hours on 07973 335112 or email: comms@wlv.ac.uk.

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