Project
Oxford Brookes University

Location
Oxford, United Kingdom

Completed
2014

Architect
Design Engine

Landscape Architect
Land Use Consultants

Services Engineer
Grontmij

Main Contractor
Laing O’Rouke

Photographer
James Newton
Type
Arts and Education

Discipline
Architecture + Environment




The multi-award winning new student centre at Oxford Brookes University is a 24,000 square metre £83 million project by architectural firm Design Engine, incorporating the John Henry Brookes Building and an extension to the Abercrombie Building.

We collaborated with the University and Design Engine to provide not only exemplar sustainable and energy efficient lighting design, but also one that truly enhances the student experience.

With such a large and complex campus the lighting approach has been developed to aid with way finding, differentiate public and private spaces and help provide a human scale.

We analysed the way people would approach, move through, and use the spaces. Clear definition of routes, entrances and thresholds help both students and visitors to orient themselves within the campus. Pedestrian columns and low-level lighting integrated into landscape features mark pathways and changes of level, and key vertical surfaces are illuminated.

Changes in colour temperature help to mark the difference between public (social) spaces versus private (teaching) space. Within the teaching, library and office spaces, a cooler neutral colour temperature creates a fresh, calm and diffuse environment for study. Social spaces, both internally and externally, are lit with a warmer colour temperature for a welcoming ambience.

Given the large volume and open flowing nature of the architecture, it was key to its usability to provide a sense of human scale. We positioned the lighting to reveal detail, and located it at multiple levels (both high and low) to make the space seem more accessible and feel more comfortable. Where appropriate, we deliberately broke away from the rigidity of grid-based arrays of downlights with more playful arrangements.

The scale of the project made it cost efficient for a series of bespoke luminaires to be developed to support the visual character as well as meeting the practical requirements of the different spaces. We designed a linear modular fluorescent system with an adjustable up/down light ratio for the teaching, library and office spaces.

In the glazed food hall, a custom designed mirrored finished linear pendant mounted in an overlapping random arrangement creates multiple reflections of the space and exterior landscape.

A comprehensive lighting control system in is place to provide flexibility to the scheme overall.

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