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Physical learning settings provide meaningful and memorable backdrops for impressionable minds. These formative experiences have lifelong impacts. Today’s imprints shape tomorrow’s outcomes. Higher education campuses are living and learning environments that frame student experiences, fulfill generational expectations and shape student outcomes.
Newhaven’s recently completed University Technical College is an inspiring new landmark that brings vivid architectural and educational vitality to a long-struggling seaport. The UTC@harbourside acts as a catalyst for the further economic and social regeneration of Newhaven, equipping the community with the skills and experience to take advantage of the opportunities presented by marine and environmental engineering within Newhaven and the wider District.
The client brief was to design a new UTC for up to 600, 14-19 year olds to be located within the historic setting of two existing Listed buildings on the Railway Quays site in the heart of Newhaven, East Sussex.
Whilst the Quays site was once at the heart of Newhaven’s maritime industry – following its journey from maritime prosperity to post-industrial decline – the existing buildings had fallen into disuse and dilapidation.
Working collaboratively with the technical advisors, Lewes District Council, Conservation and client team, a successful design and inclusive technical solution was sought over a 22- month period (design to handover), which through rigorous testing of educational pedagogies and considerate design options realised a state-of-the-art teaching facility that reinforces its connection between Newhaven’s maritime heritage and future.
The development incorporated bespoke modern teaching facilities required to meet the needs of the UTC@harbourside and the students who will study there, in conjunction with a civic and community presence within the heart of Newhaven.
The new UTC was to be housed within two existing Listed buildings, along with a new-build element to link the two facilities. This in itself posed numerous challenges with regards to creating an airtight inner skin, aligned with keeping the existing Listed external envelop intact to provide minimal thermal performance.
Several solutions were tested and the challenge of keeping the existing façade became a virtue. The final solution incorporated high-performing Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), which were prefabricated off site and lifted in internally, floor by floor, as the building grew.
The SIPs provided a minimal impact solution with regard to making the building air tight (from the inside) and for detailing the existing openings, windows, doors, etc., as well as providing savings in timing and programme costs.
In addition to the high standard of fabric specified, other passive design measures were adopted including high-performing curtain walling, double glazed windows and door and roof insulation. Active design measures included mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery, efficient lighting and high performance gas boilers, which will provide space heating and hot water to the building.
Large areas of flat roof with high parapets where incorporated into the design to allow ease of access for maintenance to accommodate Photovoltaics that provide a source of on-site renewable energy generation.
Specific attention was given to the design of the new modern windows and doors to ensure they matched the original transom and mullion arrangements. Where possible, original interior features where retained and included within the design. This included the original columns and one of the original gantry cranes, which was moved to the river front side of the building and incorporated into an atrium design to ensure it was showcased externally as well internally at different levels.
Careful consideration of colour and materiality of new-build elements ensured the external focus would be about highlighting the heritage buildings. This required massing studies to ensure the educational adjacencies and massing of the existing features came together, and that the building as a whole would sit well on the river front.