University of Plymouth Design & Engineering Building
In Brief

University of Plymouth



The proposals for The University of Plymouth's Design and Engineering facility seek to extend and refurbish the 1979 Babbage Building, creating more than 10,000m² of research and teaching space. It will be an open and connected building that will be an innovative new home for Plymouth's School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and provide additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture. It will promote creativity, cross-disciplinary collaboration and wellbeing. 

The Babbage Building is to be extended volumetrically, creating an interlocking series of single and double-height spaces which step down from east to west across the site and accommodate a wide range of specialist lab and workshop spaces.

The refurbishment will take the building back to the original concrete frame – a characterful waffle-slab constructed square grid - that will be revealed by stripping out suspended ceilings and overhead services to create a cascade of double – height spaces through the formerly enclosed plan. Programmed spaces are physically and acoustically separated with glazed screens, which maintain a sense of connectivity and natural daylighting throughout.

The building is a key component of the university’s masterplan, and will act as a western gateway at the threshold of the University and the City of Plymouth. Clad in glass and teal-blue glazed brick slip panels serve to unify the existing and new areas in a common external skin. On the upper level, terraces provide additional outdoor teaching spaces, their informal character reinforced by a soft landscape base, such that the building has the impression of growing out of the landscape.


The strategic decision to reuse the existing Babbage structure means that the New Engineering and Design Facility will inherently have far lower embodied carbon than a new-build alternative.

The new façade provides improved airtightness, and environmental conditioning makes use of the thermal mass of the concrete frame. Heating is delivered from the existing University Heat Network and an onsite PV array will offset CO2 emissions.

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