The University of Exeter appointed Grainge Architects in 2015 to design a new home for their digital humanities department, which has recently been completed by Morgan Sindall. The visually striking design responded to the client’s desire for a building with “wow” factor, announcing the state of art facilities on the Campus.
A vibrant patina green clad “floating” box with a “picture frame” glazed end and delicate brise soleil skirt to the front of the building was designed to create a landmark building on a relatively small budget compared to other building on the campus. The patina standing seam cladding references the copper roofs of the surrounding university buildings. The extension to the Queen’s Building maximises the potential of an un-used site at the corner of two existing buildings in order to create a new entrance, media wall seminar space and post-graduate study areas. These new spaces connect a series of refurbished rooms in order to house recording, photography and 3D scanning studios.
An industrial aesthetic for the interior, with exposed services and painted brickwork, combined with bold splashes of colour knit together the existing and new spaces to create a unified department. One of the largest media walls in the South West is the focus of the scheme, allowing staff and students to view and interact with digital copies of physical objects, protecting the original artefacts for future generations. The extension was designed with the media wall at its heart, located in a ground floor seminar room adjacent to a new double height entrance lobby. A glazed folding partition between the two spaces also allows the wall to be used for exhibitions and open days. First floor study areas overhang the ground floor accommodation, providing solar shading to the south facade and creating shelter at the building entrance. To encourage interaction with students from other departments, floor to ceiling glazing wraps around the media wall hub, allowing passers-by to engage with the activities within.
This new home for the digital humanities department will help to ensure that the University of Exeter remains at the forefront of international research into historical and cultural artefacts.