patel taylor adds two buildings to essex university’s brutalist campus
image © edmund sumner

 

 

 

london-based architecture firm patel taylor has completed two buildings at the campus of essex university — a new wing to the albert sloman library and the silberrad student centre. the two structures have been conceived as a continuation of the original 1960s utopian masterplan for the school, laid out by architects cooperative partnership. the brief called for a single building that would complement the library and provide 24-hour student services, with integrated media and learning centres. however, patel taylor opted to split the purposes of the library and student centre into two separate structures, creating a landscaped space between. consequently, the buildings create a natural gateway, framing the east-west axis to the northern edge of the campus.

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the silberrad student centre rests on a deck of stone at the edge of the lake
image © tim soar

 

 

 

the library’s new wing makes deliberate architectural references to the existing building, picking up on the dominant structure of the two storey columns and the four storeys of accommodation cantilevered above. the wing connects to the existing library across the 1963 core, utilizing the breakout panels originally designed into the building and capitalizing on the main circulation hub with its rare paternoster lift.

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horizontal trays are cast from in-situ concrete
image © edmund sumner

 

 

 

the adjacent silberrad student centre rests on a deck of stone at the edge of a lake. three layers of horizontal trays cast from in-situ concrete create a strong sense of perspective against the rhythm of the library columns, while limestone piers and full height glazing echo the campus’ irregular window patterns. internally, a visitor reception leads to a three-storey atrium that features a sculptural steel and oak staircase, prefabricated in parts by belfast shipbuilders.

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limestone piers and full height glazing echo the campus’ irregular window patterns
image © edmund sumner

 

 

 

the university has shown great vision and ambition for the future development of the campus and we have ensured that the library and student centre live up to these ideals,’ said andrew taylor, director of patel taylor. ‘the original 60s plan placed student life at its heart and we’re now bringing this into the 21st century.’ professor anthony forster, vice-chancellor of university of essex added: ‘patel taylor has created two amazing buildings – a new library wing and students services building – that are an absolutely perfect complement to our existing iconic mid-century architecture. we couldn’t be more pleased.’

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
the scheme is a continuation of the original 1960s masterplan
image © edmund sumner

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
a visitor reception leads to a three-storey atrium
image © tim soar

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
a sculptural steel and oak staircase was prefabricated in parts by belfast shipbuilders
image © tim soar

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
the use of concrete is continued internally
image © tim soar

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
a generous provision of glazing ensures external views
image © edmund sumner

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the rear of the student centre (left) and the library extension (right)
image © edmund sumner

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
the new wing makes deliberate architectural references to the existing building
image © edmund sumner

patel-taylor-silberrad-student-centre-university-of-essex-designboom-02
the buildings create a natural gateway, framing the east-west axis to the northern edge of the campus
image © edmund sumner