Design Engine were commissioned by Oxford Brookes University to produce a new masterplan for their Headington Campus and to design a series of interconnecting projects as the first phase of its delivery. This 24,000 sqm scheme was won by invited competition with six other British practices and was submitted for planning to Oxford City Council in 2009, and completed in phases between 2012 and 2014. Those elements of the master plan delivered by Design Engine consist of the Abercrombie Building and the John Henry Brookes Building. This forms part of the University’s progressive ‘Space to Think’ initiative. Accommodation includes a new library, main social learning space, lecture theatres, student services centre, teaching accommodation and commercial/retail space.
The skin of the building is instrumental both in knitting the campus together in a homogenous way and in creating a range of environments conducive to each unique use. Conceptually, the intention was that the skin is used to refer to the values of Oxford Brookes University. As inspiration, detailed research was undertaken to incorporate images of the cellular structure of trees into the building skin in reference to the University’s strong environmental ethos.
Poetically, the tree cell structure images refer to the building blocks of the natural environment, and therefore the comprehension of the building’s design evolution through rigorous scientific research.
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