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Competition: University of Warwick Faculty of Arts, England

The RIBA has launched an international competition for an ‘architecturally outstanding’ £33 million faculty of arts at Warwick University in Coventry, England (Deadline: 27 October)

The two-stage competition invites ‘innovative and insightful teams with exceptional creative skills’ to draw up proposals for the new landmark building.

The Faculty of Arts Development will bring together eight University of Warwick humanities departments currently spread across two separate buildings.

University of Warwick, England

University of Warwick, England

Source: Image by Steve Walton

Warwick Arts Centre

Arts faculty chair and professor Simon Gilson said: ‘At the heart of the vision of the new humanities building is our desire to create a building that showcases the world-leading research and teaching in the arts faculty at the University of Warwick.

‘We are looking for a building that is open, inviting and flexible; a place that allows collaboration, creativity and innovation to flourish; that acts as a hub for public engagement in the humanities and creative arts; and that serves the entire university, its stakeholders and the public, by nurturing cultural value and creating partnerships at the regional, national and international level.’

The university, founded in 1965, occupies a 290ha campus on the edge of Coventry, with smaller satellite outposts in London and nearby Wellesbourne. Its suburban campus is around 30 minutes by train from Birmingham and one hour from London, and hosts most of the university’s 24,000 students.

Coventry, England

Coventry, England

Source: Image by Rwendland

Warwick University amphitheatre

The new building will replace an existing car park on the campus near to the main library and students union, both designed by MJP Architects. Other key nearby structures include the Warwick Arts Centre – completed by Renton, Howard, Wood Associates in 1974, and Berman Guedes Stretton’s £10.4 million teaching and learning building.

BMJ Architects also completed a £4.2 million Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology (CMBC) at Warwick Medical School nearby four years ago.

The judging panel will select up to five shortlisted teams following an expressions of interest with pre-qualification questionnaire round. Each team will receive £7,500 to participate in the tender and design concept phase of the competition.

The panel will include RIBA adviser Cindy Walters of Walters & Cohen alongside leading departmental academics and members of the university’s senior leadership team.

The winning architect-led multidisciplinary design team, set to be announced on 1 February, will develop the scheme up to RIBA Stage 3 before moving to a client advisory role during construction.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 2pm on 27 October

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
5th floor
The Studio
32 The Calls
United Kingdom

Tel: 0113 203 1490

Visit the competition website for more information

Alison Richard Building case study: Q&A with Carol Lelliott

Nicholas Hare Architects partner Carol Lelliott discusses lessons learned designing a combined humanities facility for the University of Cambridge

How did the Alison Richard Building create a new high-quality environment for the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge?

The building acts as a gateway to the university’s main arts campus and derives its sense of distinction as an international research centre from its calm modernity and light filled interiors. The relatively narrow floorplates and high ceilings contribute to an uplifting quality that the building users particularly enjoy. The ground floor social spaces – including a popular café - enclose a sunlit garden court and extend the potential for collaborative interaction across the site.

The shape of the building enables each of the user groups to maintain a distinct identity by providing them with flexible space in a dedicated floor or wing. At the heart of the building an intimately scaled atrium visually links together clusters of seminar rooms and shared informal meeting areas and acts as an interactive hub for collaboration.

University of Cambridge, England

University of Cambridge, England

Alison Richard Building by Nicholas Hare Architects

What issues are important when designing a flexible faculty intended to promote collaboration and innovation?

A through consultation process can both help create the culture of collaboration and also build the mutual trust that is needed for innovation. Discussion with the users enabled Nicholas Hare Architects to reduce the dedicated area allocations to each group and create a much richer variety – in scale and mood - of shared spaces. We were also able to make more efficient use of space, creating more open plan arrangements capable of being easily reconfigured for changes in learning and research patterns.

Movement within the building is key – creating a high degree of visibility and providing touchdown spaces around the central stair enhanced the potential for serendipitous meetings between users, visitors, staff and students. But most important of all is making a building that people want to spend time in… to maximise their potential exposure to one another.

University of Cambridge, England

University of Cambridge, England

Alison Richard Building by Nicholas Hare Architects