Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre wins RIBA award

SPACE are delighted to announce that Durham University’s Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre has won a RIBA National 2021 award, with the Jury labelling it an ‘outstanding addition to the University and City.’

The building is central to the University’s Strategy for the creation of enhanced teaching and learning facilities to support the adoption of new pedagogies, which will facilitate current and future best practice in academic delivery.

A top-lit central courtyard forms a social and circulation hub which offers access to a café, 250 and 500-seat lecture theatres alongside spaces for seminars and project rooms. Surrounding the lecture theatres are a diverse mix of teaching spaces providing a ‘workplace-like’ environment for self-guided group work. Full height windows frame views of the surrounding landscape with glimpses of Durham Cathedral and the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects and delivered by Space Architects and Galliford Try, the building demonstrates the benefits of a collaborative approach to design and construction. 

FaulknerBrowns Architects and the design stage consultants developed the design to the end of RIBA Stage 3, from which point Galliford Try and their consultant team, led by Space Architects, then developed and refined the design to ensure that the university’s aspirational, performance, sustainability and functional requirements were realised.

SPACE were also responsible for the interior design and finishes, encompassing space planning, furniture selection and design. To achieve effective implementation of overarching pedagogy principles, SPACE  led a series of engagement sessions with University stakeholders. These included supplier visits and mock-up testing to interrogate options, which contributed to the success of the finished scheme.

The centre has been designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards as well as delivering EPC ‘A’ rated energy performance. An integrated technology and sustainability strategy was central to the University’s vision for the teaching and learning centre. Thin-film photovoltaics embedded within the courtyard roof glazing, together with a combined heat and power unit, make a significant contribution to onsite renewable energy generation. A mixed-mode ventilation strategy is also employed. Natural ventilation is provided from the louvre panels next to windows, controlled by the Building Management System. Transfer grilles in the rear of the teaching spaces exhaust warm air to the atrium where it is discharged through the roof lights via natural stack effect.

The new building has been embraced by the student and academic community and demand for its diverse facilities has ensured it has become a hugely popular venue on the campus. Having been open since the start of the 2019-20 academic year, the building represents a significant improvement in the quality of learning space and has already established itself as a crucible for academic endeavour.

David Wise, Associate Director at Space Architects commented:"We are delighted that the Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre has received a RIBA national award, which recognises not only the accomplished design, but also the skill and refinement achieved in the execution of this ambitious project. SPACE worked extensively with stakeholders to ensure that key pedagogy, functional and environmental principles were achieved whilst safeguarding the original design concept. The finished building is testament to the collaborative approach by all involved."