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Competition: Cardiff University computing and accommodation blocks

Cardiff University in Wales is recruiting architects for a £23 million maths and computing sciences building and a £32 million student accommodation block (Deadline: 3 and 10 February)

Two architect-led multidisciplinary design teams will be selected to develop BIM Level 2 plans for the schemes, which are both planned to complete in 2021.

The first project will create a 10,600m2 combined purpose-built home for the university’s mathematics and computer science and informatics departments, which currently suffer from a lack of space.

Wales

Wales

Source: Image by Aerial Photography Wales

Cardiff University

The second project will deliver up to 725 student bedrooms on a site that is currently an artificial sports pitch within the university’s main central Cardiff campus.

Both schemes are part of a Moses Cameron Williams Architects’ masterplan to regenerate the Welsh university.

Karsan Vaghani, Cardiff University deputy director of estates said: ‘I’m looking for innovative architects that have worked collaboratively and successfully with other disciplines and the end users. We want ambitious applications that match the ambition of Cardiff University.

FCBS's £50 million ‘Centre for Student Life’ project - approved December 2016

FCBS’s £50 million ‘Centre for Student Life’ project - approved December 2016

FCBS’s £50 million ‘Centre for Student Life’ project - approved December 2016

‘We’re a university that is aiming to be among the top 20 in the UK and top 100 in the world, so these developments will help us to achieve our goals. If you can contribute then get in touch.’

Last year Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS), Hawkins\Brown and HOK all won planning permission for major projects at Cardiff University won under the masterplan.

FCBS’s competition-winning £50 million Centre for Student Life project will create a 9,000m² complex physically connected to the university’s existing student union on Park Place.

Hawkins\Brown and HOK are meanwhile working on a two-building science and innovation centre project on the university’s brownfield Maindy Park site nearby.

Moses Cameron Williams Architects won the masterplanning job in 2014, defeating Foster + Partners, HOK, Wilkinson Eyre, Allies and Morrison, Stride Treglown and Sheppard Robson.

Cardiff University currently provides around 5,544 student rooms and is hoping to deliver an additional 1,310 units in the next five years.

How to apply

Deadline

The response deadline for the residences project is noon, 3 February, while the deadline for applications for the maths and computer sciences contract is noon, 10 February. Submissions may be in English or Welsh.

Contact details

Julie Paynter
Cardiff University
Procurement Services
McKenzie House
30-36 Newport Road
Cardiff
CF24 0DE

Tel: +44 2920879648
Email: Buyline@cardiff.ac.uk

View the maths and computer sciences contract notice for more information

View the residences contract notice for more information

Mountbatten Building case study: Q&A with Julian Dickens

The associate director at Jestico + Whiles discusses lessons learned designing a computer sciences centre for the University of Southampton in England

How did your Mountbatten Building create a landmark computer sciences centre for the University of Southampton?

The Mountbatten Building is at the north-west apex of the university’s main Highfield campus. The rotation of the new structure on to the ‘campus grid’, and the introduction of a dramatic cantilever on this corner, creates a dynamic gateway which announces the approach to the university. This rotated arrangement also creates a tapered external space to the south-east, which unifies Mountbatten with the adjacent Zepler and Maths buildings and creates a south-facing public square. The architectural expression alludes to the research being carried out within. Screen-printed fritting applied to the glazed plinth adopts an intricate chiral fractal pattern developed by one of the optical nanotechnology research groups.

University of Southampton

University of Southampton

Source: Image by Peter Cook

Mountbatten Building by Jestico + Whiles

Which architectural, material and other considerations are important when designing computer science centres such as these?

The briefing stage is critical, requiring skilled engagement with multiple user groups and the alignment of the brief with budget. The spatial organisation and interior design should carefully consider clarity of wayfinding for a variety of building users, including students, researchers and visitors. There is an opportunity for the architecture to enable different modes of study and working. Successful teaching and research buildings of this type incorporate a blend of quiet spaces for deep thought, and collaboration spaces which facilitate cross-fertilisation of ideas. Another important quality is the way in which the architecture reflects the identity and culture of the department. This will be key at Cardiff University, where two schools will share the new building. This exciting project is a great opportunity for collaboration.

University of Southampton

University of Southampton

Source: Image by Peter Cook

Mountbatten Building by Jestico + Whiles

Q&A: Karsan Vaghani, Cardiff University deputy director of estates (campus development)

Cardiff University deputy director of estates (campus development)

Cardiff University deputy director of estates (campus development)

Karsan Vaghani

What is your vision for the new maths and computer science building and residences?

We are bringing together two of Cardiff University’s schools: Mathematics and Computer Science & Informatics. We have a detailed brief from both schools and we have calculated that 10,000m² will accommodate their needs. The brief includes requirements for teaching and academic accommodation as well as communal and social needs. The aim is to create a vibrant centre of excellence that will host innovative teaching and research in an interdisciplinary environment.

What we’re looking for is something that’s distinct, therefore we need high-calibre architects. We’re particularly excited about the location, which is a great opportunity right in the heart of our Cathays campus. Three options were drawn up, and the university chose the highest-quality option, which is reflected in the tender. This highlights our commitment to producing an innovative building that meets the needs of students and staff from the two schools.

The student accommodation developed from a request to house 400 students, then 600, and now due to the university’s success we’re looking at 700-plus. We will be looking for design innovation for these residences, which will be on our Talybont site. I’d like to have a good look at the procurement process because we can do a lot of off-site fabrication on this project.

How will the new schemes relate to the university’s development masterplan?

The Maths and Computer Science & Informatics building has always been part of our masterplan, which will result in a major transformation of our campus by providing new research, teaching and student facilities. The masterplan is making a significant difference as major facilities are already opening. Last year, for example, the Queen opened  the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, a European centre of excellence on our £300 million Innovation Campus. We’re also in the process of building two further research-focused facilities, totalling £135 million, on the Innovation Campus, working with architects HOK and Hawkins\Brown. Our plans for a £50 million Centre for Student Life, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, on our Cathays Campus were passed by the City of Cardiff Council before Christmas. It’s great to see the masterplan taking shape in the real world.

Demand has led to us taking a fresh look at how to meet our students’ accommodation, hence the plans for a new residence at Talybont. It’s vital we provide students with the best experience possible as a university, and their accommodation is of course a major part of that. Talybont is a site where we already house a large number of students so it is a logical location. We’ll then consider further capacity if necessary.

What sort of architects are you hoping will apply?

I’m looking for innovative architects that have worked collaboratively and successfully with other disciplines and the end users. We want ambitious applications that match the ambition of Cardiff University. We’re a university that is aiming to be among the top 20 in the UK and top 100 in the world so these developments will help us to achieve our goals. If you can contribute then get in touch.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon, and how will the architects be procured?

As mentioned, we’re currently very busy developing new facilities as part of our masterplan. We’re putting up two new buildings on our Innovation Campus, a former brownfield site not far from our central Cathays Campus. We’re building Innovation Central with Hawkins\Brown and working with HOK on our Translational Research Facility. We’re currently partnering Kier Group to conduct the first phase of early works on the brownfield site. The Centre for Student Life next to our students union on the Cathays Campus has also just been given the go-ahead, so that’s two very significant projects for us ahead of the maths and student accommodation projects.

Are there any other similar higher education projects you have been impressed by?

It’s not a higher education project but I was impressed by the innovative approach of Hilton’s scheme with Chinese construction firm CIMC to build Bristol Airport’s first hotel. The rooms are made of former shipping containers, but fitted out to a high standard with everything that you’d expect. Apparently the rooms were built in China and shipped to the UK before being assembled on site. It might be an approach we can consider for our student accommodation project.