Concrete Elegance - Learning Spaces


The Forum, Southend-on-Sea
Speaker: Roger FitzGerald, ADP Architects


The building form responds to its urban context - along Elmer Avenue precast concrete panels fold out from the facade to provide solar shading, creating a strong two-storey high element that relates to the scale of the domestic terrace. The elevation to the new public square on the other side has a much grander civic presence - here the glazing is interspersed with precast concrete cladding panels at first and second floor levels. Internally the main staircase and atrium is framed by tall, sheer exposed concrete walls, that create a naturally lit focal space, which unifies all of the accommodation in the building. The ground floor contains the public accommodation, such as the Focal Point Gallery, the lecture theatre and the café. The 200-seat lecture theatre is contained within a curved concrete board marked walls. Concrete soffits and walls provide high thermal mass to absorb heat during the day, with generous floor-to-floor heights. The photovoltaics, the ground source heating and cooling, and the exposed concrete have helped the project achieve a BREEAM “Excellent”.

Ortus, Camberwell, London
Speaker: Mark Shaw, Duggan Morris Architects

Ortus is a 1,550sqm building, creating learning facilities, cafe, exhibition and ancillary spaces. The central focus was to create a totally immersive, modern learning environment through networking, social media and Wi-Fi technologies such that each individual user can tune the learning process to their special needs. The building is a simple rectilinear form, consisting of a restrained palette of materials including a fair-faced concrete frame, elevations of brick and glass with a vertical external grid of precast concrete fins. The cafe on the ground floor, near the building entrance, is intended as a marker to help the disadvantaged and disabled, by making the building completely open and welcoming to the wider community.

Chaired by David Bennett.


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