The 9,000m2 New Science Building occupies a prominent site at the heart of the University of Hertfordshire’s College Lane Campus, Hatfield. A major element of the university’s 2020 Vision, the building has been designed as a simple orthogonal structure that is derived from the cellular grid of the flexible laboratory spaces within.
Whilst optimised internally, the external envelope has been carefully finessed and tuned to signal the arrival of a major new facility at the university: a distinctive cladding system animates the building, whilst also helping the structure achieve BREEAM Excellent.
Fins – made from expanded aluminium mesh – wrap around the three solar exposed elevations of the five-storey building and act as a veil, unifying the architectural form of the structure. The regular, vertical elements allow the internal spaces to be easily and flexibly reconfigured, whilst also covering the extensive plant on the upper floor, which is required for creating the carefully controlled internal spaces required. The façade design boosts the sustainable credentials of the project by providing solar shading whilst allowing natural light to penetrate through into the deep floorplates.
Further animating the façade, the fins change direction depending on the type of internal space, with the lab areas ranging from 300m2 teaching spaces to more focused, specialist environments. This is a subtle variation, but when the building is viewed in bright conditions or illuminated at night, it brings a richness of depth and variation to the façade.
Cutaways from the regular shape of the building work to articulate the position of the entrance and this key access point is further emphasised by a high-level terrace above. This main entrance will align with a new prominent route through the campus, with a new vista visually connecting the building with a major new student residential development and new public space.
Photo credits: Sheppard Robson, Hufton + Crow