National Brownfield Institute

University of Wolverhampton

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Project Value:

£8.5 million


Key Points

Third AA Project at £120 million Campus

Research and Innovation in Brownfield Expertise

1,900sq.m state of the art facility

Catalyst for economic regeneration

Free-thinking workspaces

University of Wolverhampton has been developing its research and innovation expertise is all aspects of brownfield development. Led by the University and supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the City Council, the Black Country LEP and other strategic/industry partners, they will create a 1,900sq.m state-of-the-art research and innovation centre with commercial testing facilities, wet laboratory space, digitally enabled research and innovation space and support spaces. It will also house a national policy institute which will inform and guide future strategy development around brownfield regeneration, giving specialist advice on dealing with contaminated land and repurposing buildings and sites. In addition, it will look at new and innovative construction methods such as modular housing, and therefore the construction of the NBI will itself utilise modular / off-site construction methods where possible, particularly for their ongoing ‘demonstrator’ potential.

The building’s users will enjoy a large open innovative collaborative digital lab inspired by free-thinking workspaces such as Google. Specialist technology will enable users to envision, engage, gather and enable innovative research, including a 9m immersive VR experience cylinder.

A neatly controlled representation

The design has developed through an iterative process, in response to a much evolving and refining set of briefing requirements. It responds to its triangular wedge-shaped plot along the western boundary of the wider Springfield site, bounded by the railway viaduct on the west and the internal site spine road to the east. Façades are designed as a neatly controlled representation of the building layout and function and embrace and reflect the contemporary and innovative, yet principally functional, character of the building through a simple uncluttered aesthetic with materials selected to reflect the industrial character of the site. The design ensures subservience to the AA-designed School of Architecture and Built Environment (SOABE) building which is intended to remain as the iconic heart of the site. It references elements from SOABE including vertical feature fin elements at key points, panelisation grid that references the SOABE concrete plinth panels and a tonally similar palette of light grey and feature red-brown oxide.