19 May 2023

Building: Faculty of Arts Building, Warwick University
Location: Warwick
Architect: Fielden Clegg Bradley

The Faculty of Arts Building for the University of Warwick was awarded an RIBA West Midlands award and named RIBA West Midlands’ Building of the Year. The Judges described the building: "The impressive new Faculty of Arts building for the University of Warwick brings together the departments and schools of the faculty under a single roof for the first time.

It is evident that this simple mission became the driving principle behind the entire scheme, to create a vehicle for collaboration and cross-pollination of the arts, while drawing inspiration from the site’s unique parkland context. The architect has woven these two agendas into one cohesive design concept that has been executed with skill and craft.

The building itself is shaped by the surrounding trees that define the site’s parkland character. This is achieved through four pavilion buildings connected by a lightweight atrium and sculptural timber larch stair. The fragmented relationship between the individual pavilion buildings opens up axial views from the main atrium space onto the mature trees that surround the site. This connection with nature is reinforced by the atrium’s natural ventilation system and the terracotta cladding that references the earthy tones of the local geology.

Furthermore, the site’s parkland character is woven into the building’s fabric, fulfilling the client’s desire for a multidisciplinary space that encourages collaboration. The feature staircase, inspired by the structure of a tree, organically grows through the central atrium space, each branch helping to demarcate various communal spaces to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. At the base of the stair, it splays like a tree’s root ball to form an amphitheatre that activates the ground floor and addresses the main entrance.

The combination of the client’s ambitions to create a new model of working for the faculty, and the architect’s creativity in articulating this ambition through a holistic design approach, has resulted in a delightful building with a series of engaging spaces that are both inviting and flexible, enabling collaboration, creativity and innovation."