Silverstone University Technical College
Silverstone, England
Silverstone University Technical College
Silverstone, England

An education to capture the imagination and commitment of young students. Connecting their dreams to real-life opportunities. Today’s technical colleges create centers of excellence to provide top-flight resources with access to both excellent academics and connection with cornerstone employers. One of the first UTCs to open, it sets the new standard for students drawn to careers in motorsport.

For 14- to 19-year-old students aspiring to careers in motorsport or new pathways to university, this UTC is one of the first of a new concept for immersive learning. Based at the Silverstone racing grounds in the very heart of British motorsport, it boasts an ultra-modern, new multimillion-pound facility and combines the resources of local college, university and industry employers to enhance the study of technical event management and high-performance engineering.

The Vision

Far from the days of engineering feats created in gardens, sheds and garages, these performance engineers of the future will operate from laboratory-like spaces serving as their platform for design, testing, experimentation and perfection.

The building’s strong visual identity is inspired by clean aesthetics of clinical spaces, order and precision.  The linear planning of the facilities makes the building immediately legible to the visitor and user alike. The accommodation is split by a dramatic top-lit central atrium, the link between the theoretical and practical. The learning spaces are re-established by use of glazed partitions with a subtle brand identity emerging through the manifestation. The openness of the workshop spaces showcases learning throughout the building, which encourages an ethos of teamwork and shared investigation. The pared-down palette with red accents selectively applied brings a unity to the college identity rather than separating and colour-coding the student cohort. The image portrayed is deliberately professional and decidedly non-academic.

The Design

The massing, orientation of the scheme emerged from the optimisation of four key requirements: internal function, construction programme and cost efficiency, acoustic performance and environmental (low-energy) performance. The resulting solution fits all accommodation into a highly engineered building section repeating the length of the building and generating cost, material and time efficiencies that were realised in the project programme and tight budget.

A red axial wall dominates the project, iconic from the exterior and carried through internally, creating an acoustic shelter for the teaching spaces to the north and providing shading from sunlight and solar gain.

The teaching spaces in the school are divided into two categories – one being less noise-sensitive than the other, founding the concept of a north/south, college-side/trackside division that informed the design’s strong linear shape. General learning spaces, administration suite and learning resource centre (LRC) are placed away from the noisy track on the college-side of the building whilst workshops, labs and event management spaces are placed on the trackside, generating an authentic vocational teaching space.

The success of the modular building section approach allowed a remarkable build programme of just nine months, with 75 percent of the building – covering all necessary functions – was operational whilst the build team completed the fit-out scheme as the college year started.