Arts University Bournemouth New Building
Student Services Building, Arts University Bournemouth
Arts University Bournemouth’s original stock of municipal style buildings was about as far removed from representing the institute’s creative agenda as it was possible to imagine. This legacy real-estate of civic centre architecture is slowly and successfully being replaced by and subsumed within a new generation of buildings that are articulate and artistic. The new buildings are often colourful, sometimes serious and occasionally playful, filling out an evolving campus plan that is revolutionising navigation, facilities and perceptions. AUB is beginning to look very much like a proper art school.
The Student Services department creates a very legible front door to the campus, the building extending beyond its designated plot to form a portal across the main entry and spine road. A porter’s lodge faces the entrance to the Student Services in a formal and traditionally arranged gateway condition in contemporary style.
The composition is extruded further to frame the entrance to the adjacent existing block, maximising the transformative effect of the project. This ‘tentacle’ strategy is, apparently, recurrent in the Architect work at AUB with the revitalised entrance leading to a consolidated circulation spine that permeates the entire width of the campus extending from the new Photography Building at the far end of the plot.
Student Services deals with emotional, financial and other challenges that students may face and require assistance in resolving. This involves dispensing support and advice on serious issues in a discreet and calming environment. The building is thus suitably serious, brick framed in passing reference to the still evident facades of the original campus but defined primarily by solemn graphite cladding, window and ventilation assemblages, broken only at the entrance by a flash of bright yellow.
The entry splits visitors left to student union offices and right to students services within which staff spaces face the street whilst student interview rooms are retired from view at the rear. The two functions are separated by a landing/corridor just wide enough to squeeze a long narrow slot void down the centre– an unlikely but really valuable addition [or omission] to the space.
Planning, acoustic treatment, light, materials and art all conspire to make the interior of this building a tangibly comforting and calming environment to facilitate the function. The staff were explicit that this atmosphere plays a significant role in the success of their mission. This is a modest building which has a positive impact on the campus and campus life, providing a really well-pitched bridge between the architecture of administration and the architecture of art.