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Huddersfield Uni's Barbara Hepworth Building completed

The £30 million project was designed by AHR and built by Morgan Sindall Construction

Posted by Julian Owen | August 07, 2019 | Bricks & mortar

The University of Huddersfield’s striking new home for its School of Art, Design and Architecture – the Barbara Hepworth Building – is complete. The £30m project, designed by AHR and built by Morgan Sindall Construction, unites the three disciplines under one roof for the first time. 

HRH the Duke of York officially opened the building last month. 

The design team claims to have been inspired by origami, developing a cantilever structure addressing the site’s five-metre level change, simultaneously celebrating its canal-side location by offering stunning views. 

The façade boasts a laser-cut veil, inspired by textiles and the history of the neighbouring mills. The individually designed panels minimise glare and overheating, while the building’s transparency gives passersby an intriguing glimpse of the creative processes and advanced technologies at work within. 

The Duke of York meets representatives from Morgan Sindall and AHR at the building’s official opening

A vast and airy entrance atrium provides a central navigation point. The Phidias lab allows students from across the school to enjoy and showcase work in virtual design disciplines, with high performance visualisation and motion capture resources. Other bespoke facilities include the materials library, textile design studios, print and dye areas, workshop areas, postgraduate research space, lecture space, and studios for photography, graphic design, product design and fashion, with CAD computer laboratories. 

Sustainability was a key driver in the design process, with the building designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent with an EPC rating of A. 

Anthony Langan, director and education lead at AHR, said: “Our shared vision with the university was to bring together students and staff across different creative courses and generations. We achieved this by approaching the design of the building as one open and flexible learning hub that will catalyse creativity through interconnected working and learning spaces. This also includes more relaxed areas, such as the café and outdoor terraces, which allow important chance encounters and casual discussions to take place. 

“As architects, it is a great honour to design an exemplary and inspirational building in which the architects, designers and creatives of the future will develop their craft. We are very proud of what we have created and look forward to the possibilities that will be realised through its use.” 

In order to bring AHR’s vision to life, Morgan Sindall deployed digital construction and mixed-reality technology to better examine the project as it developed, with 3D laser scanning proving crucial during the construction of the cantilevered structure. The use of Microsoft Hololens also enabled the project team to inspect and complete walk-throughs within a projection of the building, facilitating surveys and risk assessments of the project as it developed. 

Paul Limb, project director at Morgan Sindall, said: “This project has been incredibly rewarding. We’ve developed a strong relationship with the university over recent years, and it’s been a privilege to welcome students on to the site to learn more about the complex construction process involved in creating incredible buildings like this. Through the use of cutting-edge technology we’ve been able to deliver AHR’s ambitious vision for the university and create a building befitting of Barbara Hepworth’s legacy, and one that is the perfect environment for the school’s students to nurture their crafts.”  

AHR previously completed a broad range of work across the Queensgate Campus, including the design and delivery of the award-winning Oastler Building, the extensive remodelling and refurbishment of the Joseph Priestley building, and the conversion of the historic Sir John Ramsden Court from flats into university office accommodation.

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