Ravensbourne University is a media and design university located in North Greenwich, London. It was established in 1962 by the merging of the Bromley School of Art, the Beckenham School of Art, and the Sidcup School of Art. In 2010, the university shifted to a new campus in the Greenwich Peninsula. It now occupies a central spot in the neighborhood while also being closer to its partner institutions and industries.
EduDrome is the new educational building designed for Ravensbourne University by Desitecture Architects. The London based design firm was founded in 2005 by architect Layton Reid. It is a research-based practice that is focused on creating innovative architectural and urban environments. Its design solutions target material, construction, sustainability, space usage, future expansion, and urban constraints. It has been recognized in several media for these advanced and spectacular designs. Several of the firm’s projects have been shortlisted in the WAF (World Architecture Festival) under the Educational and Experimental Future categories.
Ravensbourne University was designed in 2016 to meet the growing space requirements of the university. It aims to solve the current and future needs of the institution and hence wants to become its new focus. According to the firm’s design, the old building will remain intact and serve as an income generator. The design concept behind the building is simple and two-fold. It focuses on flexibility and creative exchange.
Flexibility: With the quality of education provided and its location in the city, the university attracts both local and international student population. This population doubles every five years. To meet this growth rate, EduDrome provides a flexible space that is capable of expanding and contracting as per the university’s needs. The design has a frame structure. The space above the atrium is simply left in its beam and column condition while the other part is provided with the floor plates. This relatively open plan on the floors allows the university to create and change spaces as and when required. Layouts, privacy, and circulation can be regulated through this. In case more floor area is needed, the space above the atrium can be used by adding floor plates over it. Thus, extensions of existing floors will be created.
Creative exchange: Design has always been a creative field and the exchange of ideas is the most vital part of it. There has to be exchanged between the researchers and also between the researchers and learners. For the former, a central atrium is provided for interaction and performances. To facilitate the exchange between outsiders and students, the façade of Ravensbourne University is kept transparent to invite passers-by to be a part of the creative process. They are also given access to the café and restaurant facilities inside the building.
Structure and materials
Ravensbourne University is a frame structure made from concrete. The majority of the space on a level is concrete flooring while the other has a scoping for adding flooring in the future. The skin of the building is made from metalized fabric. Metalized fabric is formed when thermoplastic fabrics are flattened by placing them on a heated surface and a reflective metal layer is deposited over the fabric layer. The material so formed has excellent insulation properties. It is also effective against moisture, vapor, and air currents. Metalized fabric is rapidly gaining popularity because it is lightweight, tear-resistant, and easy installation. It is a sustainable solution in building construction. Between this quilted layer of metalized fabric, a water-fed growing wall is added. Pockets are created in the skin to allow plants to grow and create a green interior. The other end elevations of the building are partly glazed and partly solar-paneled. This is done to create transparency between the exterior and interior.
The concrete used in the lower level of the Ravensbourne University helps in regulating the interior environment throughout the year. This happens because its thermal mass easily allows the material to absorb and store heat energy within it. The metalized fabric used in the building’s exterior also helps in insulation. It reduces heat gain in summer and heat loss in winters. These two materials together help maintain the interior temperature so much so that no additional external devices need to be introduced for the purpose. This saves power and also avoids the machinery discharge to the external environment. The water fed wall houses plants that create a green interior. It helps in filtering the air of toxins, reducing noise, and cooling the inner air. The wastewater generated at the end of the cycle is recirculated to the top to start the watering cycle once again. The solar panels used in the façade are a renewable and eco-friendly method of generating electricity. Further, they also help with insulation and noise reduction. Additional power is also generated through a biomass boiler in the building. The design also contains landscaping on the rooftop. This helps in naturally maintaining the temperature by reducing the necessity of air conditioners and heaters. A green roof also protects the roof from sun, wind, and rain.