Esh Build deliver a new state of the art building to accommodate computing and information sciences at Northumbria University

Rutherford Hall was demolished to make way for a new state of the art building to accommodate Computing and Information Sciences. The contemporary glass façade building is equipped with the very latest computing and information technologies.

The design for the building was chosen via a competitive process. This design by Norr Architects originates from the earliest designs for a computer, created by Charles Babbage in the 1800’s. Three other designs were all considered but this building utilised the requirements of the client by utilizing high quality materials, glazing, sustainable materials and technology and provide a rich learning and social student space.

The former Rutherford Hall used to occupy the space and was used for only a limited amount of teaching and during examinations. The university felt that the space could be better utilised. The CIS building forms an extension to the existing Ellison Block B. The new building sits a storey higher than the Ellison Block B but is considerably smaller than the adjacent Block A and Wynne Jones buildings which sit at 6 and 7 storeys.

The building has been constructed using Continuous Flight Auger (CFA) piles to a depth of 20m with concrete strip foundat8ions. The ground floor slab was constructed with the ring beams incorporated into the slab as the site had restricted space and a tight deadline.

A pre-cast concrete lift shaft was lifted into place prior to the erection of any steel work. Each section weighed between 4 and 6 tonnes and contributed to a reduced construction period. The steel frame has been constructed around the lift shaft. The glazed exterior resulted in the bracing being incorporated into the centre of the building and around the lift shaft. To add further stability to the building the steel construction radiates out from one central point along with all support columns and lighting.

The floors within the new building have been constructed using metal decking with concrete flooring. Raised deck flooring has been installed to accommodate the computers and equipment that will be housed within the building. The externals have been constructed a structural framing system with high quality, energy efficient glazing. To the periphery of the building is a small walkway around each floor to enable external cleaning. All floor heights within the new building align with Ellison Block B.

Following site and solar analysis, an external woven mesh material was chosen as this significantly reduced the solar gain by 50%. The building does benefit from some shading by the Wynne Jones buildings. Crucially the mesh reduces solar glare on the monitors from low sun angles while the fine weave of the mesh still provides good visibility without compromising performance. The curved shape of the mesh reflects the arch within the Northumbria University logo.

The roof of the building uses a single ply membrane. The plant located on the roof of the building has been screened to reduce visual impact from ground level and to surrounding buildings.
The internal layout is predominantly open plan however offices, meeting rooms and toilets have been constructed using plasterboard partition walls and glazed screens which also span out from the central point of the building and within the upper floors there are circular meeting rooms located within the centre of the building. The internal finishes use high contrast colours and surfaces for those users with partial sight or difficulty.

The ceilings have been left open so all services and conduits can be seen. A plasterboard suspended curve has been installed to the ceiling of each floor again reflecting the Northumbria University logo. This has been strategically placed to hide the larger services.

Ellison Block B was refurbished and the internal layout amended to include new offices, meeting rooms and study spaces. The link corridors between the building have been constructed with glass balustrades and metal handrails. The link corridors look into the void space within the building and up into the atrium with its glass roof. The building was also fully decorated, fitted with new lighting and floor coverings that replicate the look of the CIS building.

Externally the area was landscaped to match the existing surroundings with concrete block paving, resin bound paving, tactile paving and kerbs in silver grey granite. Soft landscaping included trees and ornamental shrub planting with artificial turf.

The building has been designed to maximise energy efficiency, with glazing chosen specifically for its performance and solar shading provision. The glazing provides a low u value which minimises heat loss during the winter but allows adequate levels of light transmission, increasing the amount of daylight and reliance upon artificial lighting. The external columns have also been fitted with thermal breakers to prevent the cold being transferred into the building.

High efficiency lighting was installed to reduce electricity usage while maintaining the desired lighting levels. LED fittings were used and lighting controls added throughout. This included daylight dimming and switching where appropriate as well as presence detection. The building also utilises the use of photovoltaic roof tiles to maximise energy generation. The building also has a regenerative lift which uses electricity to go up but generates electricity when going down. The regenerative drive enables electricity to be reused elsewhere within the building.

Recycled sub base from local suppliers was used during construction. This material makes use of suitable inert materials and diverts waste from landfill. The use of local suppliers also reduces the vehicle emissions as travelling distances are minimised.

The scheme utilised a Building Information Modelling (BIM) system. Regular meetings were held to ensure the system was working to its full potential. The project team developed processes and protocols to share models in a federated environment which also contained live cost and time information. The client also received an accurate model of the building at handover.

The information contained within the model came from the different design team members who each added their data to the model in the correct origin and orientation. The meetings enabled clear and open discussions between all parties and enables issues to be resolved quickly and effectively.

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