riba awards

Essex University - Albert Sloman Library and Silberrad Student Centre






Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Timothy Soar 6

ARCHITECT: patel taylor

CLIENT: university of essex


riba EAST award 2016,

riba east building of the year 2016 - sponsored by marley eternit


The new Albert Sloman Library and Siberrad Student Centre provide an extremely successful new front door for the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus, welcoming visitors to the site and also actively drawing students from the 11,000 population to this area of the campus in large numbers.

Patel Taylor have worked at the university for a number of years so were able to persuade the University to divide the brief into two projects that would both compliment and respect the existing architecture while providing a completion of the campus development to the north of the site.

The new student centre sits on a stone base at the edge of the lake, with an over sailing canopy that welcomes the visitor which can also be seen from the existing square to the south. The building has strong horizontal layers with an irregular window pattern, which echoes the design of the existing campus fenestration, but this never feels forced or a mere copy of the older design. The materials soften the overall feel of the campus, with the utilisation of limestone cladding, both polished and natural.

The jury were extremely impressed with the sensitive use of materials both externally and internally. The architect has paid particular attention to how natural light falls on the building's surfaces and has specified simple concrete finishes to effectively show off the material's capabilities. The building is obviously extremely popular with students and was fully occupied during the jury's visit - they were left wondering what the students did before the building was open.

The library extension, that accompanies the student centre, is also a skilled piece of work, with expressive use of external in-situ concrete complimenting the existing architecture but not merely copying. As in the student centre a simple palette of materials both inside and out has been handled with expertise and care.

The jury were unanimous in awarding the project the RIBA East Building of Year, sponsored by Marley Eternit. Both buildings were full, well used, and obviously well loved by the students and staff. The client explained that they have had to take measures to prevent students sleeping in the Student Centre overnight, which was not a surprise - from the moment you enter it is a place that you do not want to leave in a hurry.

CONTRACTOR: kier eastern


enironmental / M&E ENGINEERS: mott macdonald fulcrum

quantity surveyor / cost consultant: prp

project management: sweett group

acoustic engineers: ion acoustics

COST: £17.5m

PHOTOGRAPHER/S: edmund sumner, timothy soar, roger meyer

 Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Roger Meyer 1Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Edmund Sumner 2Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Edmund Sumner 3Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Edmund Sumner 4Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Edmund Sumner 5Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Edmund Sumner 7Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Edmund Sumner 8Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Timothy Soar 9Essex Uni - A Sloman Lib Timothy Soar 10