University of Warwick: New Faculty of Arts Building puts collaboration and engagement at the heart of a new campus ‘cultural quarter’

On 6th December, the University of Warwick opens the doors of its newest building, the Faculty of Arts, to its students, research and teaching staff and the public.

The £57.5m eight storey building, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and constructed by Bowmer + Kirkland, brings together a diverse and international mix of minds from all walks of life, creating the optimum environment for generating a universe of ideas.

Previously dispersed academic departments, researchers and teachers within the arts and humanities at Warwick will be brought under one roof, with the aim of encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and teaching excellence.

The building is intended not only as an outstanding new centre for teaching and research, but also to offer an interactive hub for engagement, with a new curator appointed to organise events and exhibitions for campus communities and the public.

The building design, which has the principles of collaboration, creativity, inspiration and innovation embedded at its core, spans 15,000m2 of floor space with four distinct clusters set around a grand central staircase within a full height atrium.

It offers an antiquities room, new cinema and screening rooms, theatre studios and rehearsal rooms, collaboration spaces, a media lab and edit suite along with multi-purpose events and exhibition spaces.

New artworks have been commissioned for the building including a large-scale ceramics mural, Faith in the Miraculous, by Matthew Raw, previously artist in residence at the V&A, and a specially-commissioned poem by Raymond Antrobus MBE, winner of many prizes including the Ted Hughes award, the Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year in 2019 and, most recently, nominated for the Costa Book Award 2021.

Interior view of FABWithin the grounds, trees from Delphi will be planted, donated by the Greek Press Association – the trees were grown from saplings from the historic sanctuary of Delphi in Greece and donated in honour of the academic research and public engagement work of Professor Michael Scott of the Department of Classics and Ancient History.

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick said: “This exciting project continues to raise the bar in the standards of the facilities we provide to support teaching and research on our campus. I’m extremely pleased that the new building, in close proximity to the newly opened Warwick Arts Centre, also strengthens the University’s appeal as a cultural destination, creating space to engage with our local community through a range of opportunities including language training, access to fantastic performance and exhibition zones, and other activities to support Coventry’s Cultural Strategy in its City of Culture year.”

Professor Penny Roberts, Vice-Provost and Chair of the Faculty of Arts, said: “The new Faculty of Arts Building (the FAB) is all about collaboration: between the architects, the contractors, our Estates team and the Arts Faculty in creating a student-focused and community space. While providing a collective home for all the Arts and Humanities disciplines, it is a building for the whole of the University as well as for engagement with the wider community. It will facilitate and enrich research and teaching collaboration between disciplines and co-creation with our students, a place for everyone to enjoy and thrive.”

James Breckon, Estates Director said: “The building demonstrates a great example of successful professional collaboration from the design and construction sector. Design was led by FCBStudios, engineering by Buro Happold, project management by MACE, and cost consultancy by Turner & Townsend. The main contractor was Bowmer Kirkland. With the Estates project team and Faculty representatives we collectively completed this high quality, timeless building to the principles of the campus masterplan. Built through a pandemic the team have showed great fortitude, resilience and commitment to navigate successfully to completion and should be very proud.”

Andy Theobald, Partner FCBStudios said “Our shared vision for the new Faculty of Arts building was one of providing a platform for engagement and interaction at the heart of the University Campus. The clusters of academic studios and teaching spaces are arranged around a dramatic sculptural central stair that physically and visually brings together all the faculty departments in an inspiring environment. Spaces for performative, teaching, learning and research opportunities throughout the building provide an appropriate vantage point for the study of human interaction.

“The building sits within a ring of existing trees, its terracotta cladding grounding the building, and recalling the surrounding Warwickshire clays as much as the ancient Greek pottery on display within. The sustainability agenda for this project goes beyond energy efficient design. Constructed out of materials that will last, it has future flexibility built-in and is designed to be both life enhancing and responsive to change.”

In line with the University of Warwick’s sustainability commitments, the building achieves a BREEAM “Excellent” rating and an EPC A energy rating; it is a fully integrated smart building, designed to reduce operating carbon footprint, increase user comfort, and inform operational performance – the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system includes a multitude of sensors from C02 monitors to weather information and the smart systems are integrated with weather data, notifying building users whether it is best to leave windows open or closed overnight to ensure optimum comfort and building performance.

A low carbon cement substitute was used in the concrete frame saving an estimated 264.8 tonnes of carbon compared to use of cement. The foundations of the building are built from the recycled concrete from the previous car park that stood on the site, saving materials and the need to transport new materials to site. Like all new buildings on campus built in the last 7 years it has Photovoltaic panels installed on its roof, generating green electricity.

The new building sits adjacent to the new Warwick Arts Centre development, close to the University’s main Library, establishing a creative and cultural quarter of campus.

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