design solutions

Inside the contemporary event space Image: Jill Tate

the overall project programme because it was essential the overall completion date remained unchanged. The relocation of the Emerson

Cavitation Tunnel was also challenging. Located in the building since the 1950s and owned by the School of Marine Science and Technology, the tunnel had great historical significance as a unique propeller experimental testing facility which necessitated its removal to a new off campus location. Because of its location, this was a

challenging project. As a live construction site at the heart of the campus, in full use by students throughout the redevelopment programme, the highest standard of health and safety protocols was required on and around the site, together with the ability to co-ordinate multiple stakeholders and engage efficiently to design and achieve client and end user sign off at each stage. The west half of the Boiler House

remained fully operational throughout its redevelopment while works to the eastern half provided a radical intervention in the north east gable to create a visual and physical connection with the adjacent Student Forum. These included the removal of the existing offices at first floor and the reinstatement of the original castellation, replacement of the timber framed single glazed roof lanterns to meet current thermal requirements and overhauling the existing windows.

Elsewhere, a new full height structural

opening was formed in the gable wall to enable the internal events space to be opened up to the external landscaping of the student forum and serve as one overall adjoining space. Internally, ash veneer acoustic timber

wall panelling was installed in the assembly hall to enhance the acoustic properties of the space for performance purposes. A feature wall was also constructed of ash timber mullions while acoustic panelling and glazed screens provide an aesthetic focal point to the space, as well as adding to the improvement of the hall’s acoustics. A new floating ceiling was formed below the roof lanterns and a new tiled Terrazzo floor covering was laid throughout the space. A mezzanine floor was introduced to

accommodate male and female toilet facilities and a plant room, dedicated to serving the newly created events space below. New mechanical and electrical systems

were also installed. The new heating system is controlled via internal air temperature sensors which are linked to the university’s building management system to provide set point adjustment. Mechanical ductwork was left exposed at soffit level to retain the building’s original industrial heritage, combined with that of the new modern interventions installed as part of the refurbishment works. Outside, the landscaping to the building

was redesigned to link the building entrances with those of the adjacent Armstrong Building and its courtyard. Planning approval and listed buildings

consent were granted mid-January 2017. Construction works – carried out by the local contractor PF Burridge – began on site later that month and were conducted over a nine-month construction period, reaching completion mid-October 2017. Clare Rogers, Director of Estates,

Newcastle University, commented: “It’s been wonderful to reinvent this old building, creating a modern event space in keeping with its surroundings at the heart of our beautiful city centre campus. “It shows that the university is investing

in student experience and its activities by creating state-of-the-art buildings and preserving its heritage.” Howarth Litchfield director, David

Pickersgill, added: “A clear vision and some really clever concepts from the university estates team and design office combined to lay the foundation stone for what was a great team effort. We are particularly pleased that the Boiler House received professional recognition from RICS as its Building Conservation category Winner and a nomination in the RIBA awards for the North East.”

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