Photography Building, Arts University Bournemouth

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Location: Wallisdown, Poole, UK

Client: Stuart Bartholomew, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, Arts University Bournemouth

Project Year: 2015

Cost: Over £2m

The Arts University Bournemouth is a leading institution offering high quality specialist education in art, design, media and performance. This project was for a new building over four storeys to extend the photographic department facilities in the adjacent existing building. The scheme is an initial phase of a masterplan for the development and expansion of the Wallisdown campus, supporting the future aspirations of the institution.

It was identified that from the principle north west approach, the campus lacked a visible presence. This project presented an ideal opportunity in a key strategic location, to present a public identity for the Arts University Bournemouth.

One of the University’s key strategic objectives is to continually improve the experience for existing and future students in terms of the amount and quality of its teaching spaces. The creative courses occupy a variety of distinctly specialized spaces unique to subject departments, however, the brief for the new building was to provide the much needed shared spaces that allow creative collaboration. For students this includes a 120 seat lecture theatre, shared digital computer teaching suites, and a social learning student 'hub' workspace. For staff the top floor serves as a common room and cafe, and smaller rooms for tutorials and seminars.

In addition to this, the design opens up new circulation links to the existing building areas, creating new spaces, and increased legibility of circulation for the building users. The opportunity was identified to form a foyer and exhibition gallery beyond that extends a new entrance and route into the larger existing building beyond.

The new staircase is a feature of the design, serving functionally for both primary circulation and emergency egress, it is a major vertical element in the composition of the building massing. Enclosed by a floor to rooftop glazed facade, the flights are sculptural elements made of folded steel, with LED striplights illuminate handrails and landings at night, adding drama to both the interior and exterior aspect of the stairwell.

The detailed design has been informed by photographic processes. The principal west-facing facade features an array of glazed fins that act as an environmental filter to reflect, diffuse and moderate natural daylight into the building interior, utilizing digital imaging technology whilst referencing the glass plate negatives of early photographic procedures. The building’s exterior cladding refers to early cameras, a black box form with apertures allowing roof lights, windows and ventilation louvres to control natural light and air and provide low-energy environmental control.

Internal voids form atriums between floors to aid the orientation of building users, allow movement of light and air, and provide spaces for the display and exhibition of artwork. Internal timber cladding and ceiling baffles provide acoustic control, which supports the flexibility of uses within the spaces.
The furniture was selected and specified by Design Engine, to achieve a flexibility of space use whilst also choosing fabrics and finishes to ensure an aesthetic balance within the spaces, introducing colour whilst enabling a variety of types of group and individual study spaces.

Shortlisted for 2016 RIBA South West Award

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AUB Photography Building staircase

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AUB Photography Building Student Hub

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AUB Photography Building top floor cafe