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VERDE STUDENT ACCOMMODATION, NEWCASTLE


23


repeating pattern of vertical rectangles stands in stark contrast to the hard, glossy and colourful exterior addressing the public highways, presenting a finish that’s more reflective in perception, materiality and spirit and is, to some extent, unexpected.


“People will be spending time in the courtyard, so it’s about playing with that scale and materials to give a different feel,” explains Ayers.


The metal facade panels have a protec- tive coat of varnish, preserving the natural grain and materiality of aluminium, but using slightly different shades of coating to create subtle tonal differences. These panels wrap under the soffits and down to the ground, while the double-height glazing panels are actually two windows linked together to emphasise verticality. A variety of spaces are created within the multi-purpose courtyard, enabling students to sit outside, interact or work if they want to. The landscaping needs to be robust and exude quality, so there’s a mixture of natural stone pavers, plus granites and slate finishes with planting to soften the edges. It runs through the triple height ‘cut out’ in the L-shaped building, which is supported by concrete columns.


ADF JUNE 2017


Ayers says: “The courtyard is a fairly dramatic, unconventionally-shaped space where people can enjoy varying senses of light and shadow during the day and, when it’s lit up at night, some very interesting reflections.”


Structure


In structural terms, the building consists of a reinforced concrete frame sitting on piled foundations with some steelwork to shape the forward sloping area on the top floors of the V-shaped building and a metal standing-seam roof.


Ceramics are mounted on a metal struc- tural frame system with combined board insulations and membrane running down the slab edge and returned on the soffit of the next slab up.


The majority of facade installation was carried out using mast climbers, but from the architects’ perspective, the trickiest part of the construction was creating the top element of the prow. Here, the building narrows to just 30-40 mm at very top, requiring a pre-formed element, including a sub-frame and tiles, to be lifted in by crane. Internally, the emphasis on quality continues. Verde’s 368 cluster beds and 175 superior studios all feature pod-style


FAST FACTS


• Planning approved: July 2014 • Work on site begins: December 2014


• Completed: Aug 2016 (first academic year was Sept 2016)


• Total rooms and studios: 540 • Site footprint: 3,830 m2 • Number of storeys: nine and 10 • Scheme value: £46m


MODELLING


The architects SimpsonHaugh spent “a lot of time” modelling the facade to see how it would look as well as behave


All images © Daniel Hopkinson


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