University of Southampton, Centenary Building
In Brief

Client: University of Southampton

Location: Southampton

Completion: September 2019

The Centenary Building provides shared learning and teaching facilities for the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus.

Responding to recent shifts in learning patterns and the emergence of new technologies, the building provides modern spaces for flexible and collaborative learning: made up of a 250- person lecture theatre, a ‘Harvard’ style lecture theatre, nine seminar rooms, independent study spaces, computer room, an MBA suite and a café.

Located in the North-West of the campus, an important part of the University’s brief was for the building to increase the permeability of this area of campus, to connect into and regenerate the public realm and for the building to become a hub for students.

Its geometry and form sit respectfully with the existing heritage buildings of the Campus and, like some of the other taller buildings on campus, The Centenary Building seems almost to watch over the scholarly pursuit below, whilst enjoying long views out to the city.

For the University, the building had to be adaptable in the long term, practical to operate, robust and long lasting in a coastal environment and had to achieve BREEAM Excellent. The building uses durable materials and simple environmental systems with a focus on minimal water and energy use. 

The Centenary Building won an RIBA South Award 2021. You can read the judges full comments here.



Social learning

Internally, the two wings of the building, at four and nine storeys, are joined by a generous central spiral stair which invites people to meet and encourages those incidental opportunities for research, partnership and learning. Larger learning spaces are located at lower levels of the building with smaller spaces higher up.

For all that this is a building for gathering people together; there are also independent study spaces integrated throughout the building - small backwaters where students can find their own space and offering a variety of environments in which to learn.

independent and social learning

The pale ceramic cladding is a robust high-quality façade that wraps around the faceted geometry of the building, giving subtle reflections of the neighbouring buildings.

Large-format fluted tiles give a modern yet timeless feel to the building, with the detailing belying a sense of craftsmanship. Tall windows punctuate the façade giving impressive views. The rooms are well daylit and ventilated to make for a pleasant and effective learning environment.

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Bus Interchange

In 2012 FCBStudios completed a new Bus Interchange at the heart of the Highfield Campus.

The interchange integrates bus information, a sheltering canopy and an organised waiting area for the students with a small waiting room, kiosk and toilet facilities for bus drivers.

The canopy is long enough to be visible from Library Square, giving it strong campus presence and making it easy to navigate to.

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2021 RIBA South Award

"The attention to detail here is evident, with fluted sills that match the cladding and horizontal datum lines relating to the neighbouring buildings. The rigour of these exquisite details evidences the skill of an experienced design team"

RIBA Judges 2021

"The Centenary Building is a high-quality addition to the urban realm and the result of an enlightened estates team and a talented and experienced architect"

RIBA Judges 2021
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