GRID LAYOUT The concrete structure is based on a grid layout of columns and beams, so the interior can be divided as needed into rooms or open plan spaces

Art and interior

architecture studios have folding walls to enable them to be adapted to different class sizes

robotics equipment distributed around flexi- ble spaces. Technical tutor Nick Welden says: “The space is designed so that instead of sitting in a lecture, the staff walk around as they teach – based on the idea that you will remember something better if you do it rather than just hear it.” Welden adds, “I enjoy the building because it makes you do something different. There is a lot of light and we must have one of the best views in London – you can see the Wembley Arch.”

More than just a building

There is something else unusual about the Ritterman too, the concept of the building itself being designed as a teaching resource. As defined by BPR’s user guide for staff and students, “As well as the physical systems and spaces in the building which we hope will support new innovation, there are opportunities for the building itself to be used as a resource for experimentation and data gathering.”


Client: Middlesex University Architect: BPR Main contractor: Interserve Planning consultant: Tibbalds Planning Quantity surveyor: Sweet Group Vertical gardens: Treebox In-house project manager: RLB Decoration: Skyline Painting Curtain walling and windows: Schueco Insulation: Kingspan Planning authority:

London Borough of Barnet

These could perhaps include analysis of sunlight falling on the photovoltaic panels to assess local weather conditions, or the efficiency of sustainable systems and monitoring of water levels in the living walls to assess weather conditions and create responsive or programmable irrigation systems.

BPR designed the Ritterman to BIM Level 2 and the 3D computer-aided design model created has been left for the University’s use in managing and maintain- ing the building, and for a design tool for interior architecture students and a resource for a new Masters course in BIM.

Focus on sustainability

Students interested in sustainability can also learn much from the building, which


has secured a BREEAM Excellent rating. Its water management system collects and distributes rainwater by channelling it into cisterns behind the toilets. Excess water is diverted down to the living roofs, which host more than 3,500 plants, to be soaked up by soils that feed wild flowers and grasses and support biodiversity. Surplus water is stored in a large tank behind the living walls and irrigates them as necessary. Any remaining water, for example after heavy rainfall, goes to an underground tank to be released slowly to the public drainage system, acting as part of a flood defence for homes on land below the campus.

All south-facing windows have brise soleil louvres to shade them and reduce the need to lower blinds, while low-power LEDs are controlled by sensor systems detecting if people are present in a room. Light levels are also monitored so that illumination grows brighter the further a light is from a window, or as light fades later in the day.

“World class” Middlesex’s vice chancellor, Professor Tim Blackman, has hailed the Ritterman build- ing as helping the University to continue to “provide our students with a world- class learning environment equipped with the latest facilities and technology,” cementing its reputation among employers “for graduates taught in industry-standard settings with the skills they need.” The Ritterman Building provides space, flexibility for the new teaching methods being used, and sustainability. If really radical changes are needed in future, maybe Baxter the Robot could help work them out. 


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