Designed by Make Architects, The Barn is a new, inviting community facility situated at the heart of The University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonington campus. Encompassing a dining hall, bar, common room, graduate centre, faith rooms, student services and a broad range of additional facilities – arranged over three floors – the 4,250sqm building is designed to accommodate the needs of the increasing campus population and unites the previously disparate spaces and services for the first time under one roof.
The design of The Barn was developed in response to the University’s 2008 masterplan for the 100-acre Sutton Bonington campus. The plan sought to establish a new amenities building which would have a legible configuration, with clearly defined entrances and general public spaces arranged around a large, open concourse. The building also had to unite the detached student and staff facilities and create a warm, welcoming environment for its users.
In response to the brief, the building is arranged to encourage pedestrian flow and maximise views of the surrounding landscape. The principle spaces in the building – the concourse, dining hall and the bar – are linked together by a generous staircase. The dining hall, which is the main focal point, has the capacity to cater for up to 500 people. Natural light is drawn in to the hall through a top-lit roof structure and a full height north-facing ‘great window’ that enhances the user’s experience of the space and establishes a strong visual connection between the building and the scenic landscape.
Make selected hard-wearing, natural building materials that would maintain their initial appeal throughout the life of the facility. Robust materials such as brick, timber and polished concrete were chosen for both their minimal maintenance requirements and for their colour palette which evoke a calm and elegant interior appearance. Combined with an abundance of natural light, the building creates a luminous, warm and inviting environment with a real sense of presence.
The Barn’s design has also been elevated though the creative use of ordinary materials. Traditional brick work techniques create openings in the brick walls that both improves acoustics and creates outlets for return air, providing natural ventilation for the building. The bricks also temper the heat that accumulates from large numbers of people arriving simultaneously which contributes to creating a comfortable internal environment for the user and improves the energy performance of the building.
David Patterson, lead architect on the project, states: “We are delighted to have completed our fifth building for The University of Nottingham. The Barn has provided a wide range of facilities for the use of all staff and students and it is great to see that people are really enjoying using the new spaces it provides.”
Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham said: “As our award-winning campuses continue to grow and develop, it is essential that we incorporate new buildings that fit comfortably in our landscapes and reflect the needs of our students. The Barn is an outstanding new addition to our Sutton Bonington Campus. It complements and enriches the look and feel of Sutton Bonington, whilst providing our students with a superb facility which they will be able to enjoy for years to come. Yet again Make has interpreted our ambitions perfectly and delivered a building we are proud of.”
Make has worked with the University of Nottingham for the last decade and has designed five of its buildings, including The Gateway Building which is also located on the Sutton Bonington campus.