Northumbria University

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Award-winning sustainable design

Atkins created a new landmark for Northumbria University with this award winning design for a new School of Law, Business and Design.

Located to the east of Newcastle city centre within a contained site, the building plans and layouts were designed to provide clearer access and a wayfinding system.

Integral to the design was the addition of a solar veil created by a stainless steel mesh frame. Its gentle curved shape makes for a confident contribution to the urban fabric of the city, while shading the building from 50% of the sun’s radiation without affecting interior lighting. The unique form also allowed cladding panels and windows to be used on the buildings behind instead of expensive curtain walling.

The buildings include flexible office and teaching spaces, raked and flat floor lecture theatres and hospitality suites. The design school is articulated as a separate structure whilst the law and business schools are combined on the other side of the shared external courtyard or social space which they define.

The design incorporates the use of recycled materials and a host of other sustainable initiatives which have earned it numerous accolades, including: the CIBSE Low Carbon Performance Award for Low Carbon New Build Project of the Year; the RICS Sustainability, Design and Innovation Award; and the overall Building of the Year Award 2008 for Northern Region.

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Key facts



Northumbria University




UK Europe

Richard Johnston
Associate architect

Tel: +44 113 306 6711


  • Petroc is undergoing a ten year programme of improvements which will see approximately 5,000 m² of classrooms and internal space remodelled and re-equipped with new Information Technology (IT) and teaching equipment.

    Atkins is the lead consultant for the project, which is being funded by the Government’s Enhanced Renewal Grant, and has, to date, overseen the redevelopment of four buildings.

    Our work includes a radical transformation of the college’s iconic but dilapidated 59 year old C-block, which is visible from Barnstaple town centre. 1,500m2 of internal space was remodelled into state-of-the-art facilities designed to increase utilization and improve the learning environment.

    Externally the fabric of this three storey building was rejuvenated with new cladding and replacement windows.

    Atkins also oversaw major improvements to college’s central hub area which acts a crossover space and main access point to various buildings. High quality interior design created a visually striking and functionally enhanced area which has been highly acclaimed by staff and students alike.

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  • Atkins provided full architectural services for a new $24 million complex, the first building on the south campus, located adjacent to the Lozano Resaca and linked to the main campus by a pedestrian bridge.

    Additionally, Atkins master planned the 26-acre site and designed this facility, which features laboratories and support services for the Schools of Education and Business. The building also includes general classrooms; faculty and administrative offices for both schools, including the dean of education and two department chairs; and technology, general storage, and student study areas. This project, which also included a new central thermal energy chiller plant, was completed using the construction manager at-risk delivery method.

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  • The innovative design for Richmond School campus blends the heritage of a previous century with the needs of modern education.

    Overall, the development opens up possibilities for the school to deliver a more flexible curriculum, offer more facilities to the wider community, provide high quality working environments for staff and create state of the art learning spaces for pupils.

    The Sixth Form Centre – housed in a creatively conserved Grade II listed building - sits independently within the school campus, helping to create a separate identity for the sixth form whilst enhancing Richmond’s specialism in creative arts.

    The school’s design and construction also encompasses every element of sustainability, including transport, food miles, healthy lifestyles and energy use.

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  • Built on a brownfield site, Northumbria Sport Central was used as a pre-Olympic training venue and is also home to the Newcastle Eagles Basketball Team.

    The award winning building features:

    • 3,000 seat arena
    • Secondary sports hall,
    • 25m swimming pool
    • 12m high real form climbing wall
    • Indoor running track
    • Three glass backed squash courts
    • 150 station Fitness Suite
    • Fitness suite sports and research laboratories
    • Flexible teaching and learning facilities  

    The design of Sport Central’s main arena provides a flexible column free space which can be divided into three separate sports halls. For specialist events and conferences, the space can be converted into a single arena capable of seating up to 3,000 spectators with movable seating allowing a wide range of configurations.

    From the very outset of the project, a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating was targeted and achieved, through rainwater recycling, high thermal insulation and energy efficient fittings.

    Our design demonstrates how a large volume space can be sensitively handled to create a valuable piece of new townscape.

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