Coventry University Engineering and Computing Building

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Coventry University Engineering and Computing Building

Coventry University Engineering and Computing Building




Arup Associates’ Engineering & Computing Building (ECB) at Coventry University is a landmark project combining education, industry and research facilities in a single, state-of-the-art building. Rated BREEAM Excellent, the 16,000 square metre scheme includes an engineering centre with flight simulators and engine test cells, a wind tunnel, workshops, lecture theatres, classrooms, interactive communal spaces and offices.

Intended to represent the duality of science and nature, the plan consists of two interlocking L-shaped structures organised around a landscaped courtyard. The three storey Nature block to the south employs a simple glass envelope with an extensive green roof. By contrast, the seven-storey science block to the north has a highly engineered canted façade comprising a lightweight timber frame and aluminium composite cladding panels. Hexagonal windows shaded by projecting aluminium hoods allude to the architect’s concept of a ‘busy colony’.

Central to the environmental and spatial concept is the Interactive Zone. This is located behind the inclined ‘shop window’ façade and forms the public and educational heart of the building. Structured using an expressive steel frame, the triple-height space contains the main circulation and breakout spaces, while also providing controlled daylighting and natural ventilation. The flexible, open plan layout is designed to foster collaborative learning and the cross-fertilisation of ideas.

Structural design

Interior view
(Image courtesy of Simon Kennedy)

Comprising a lattice of horizontal box beams and diagonal CHS struts, the steel structure not only supports a series of pod-like breakout spaces, but also provides lateral restraint for the atrium facade and additional compressive support for the transfer structure at third floor level. “We chose steel because its inherent strength allowed us to create an aesthetically pleasing structure using relatively small sections”, says structural engineer Robert Pugh of Arup.
Detail design