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The Blizard Building

As universities strive to attract students and scholars of the highest calibre, recent research findings by CABE have led to an increase in emphasis on excellent facilities and inspiring architecture. Stimulating colours and shapes bring the RIBA Award-winning Blizard Building at Queen Mary, University of London to life, combining a simple, functional envelope with complex internal structures done in Will Alsop’s trademark style. 

The design pairs two buildings: firstly, the main research building containing offices at ground and first floor level, and four of Alsop’s ‘pods’, ranging from a two-storey cluster of orange bubbles serving as a visitor centre, to a meeting room set within an irregular shape clad in black tensile fabric. We worked with specialist subcontractors to secure the pods, forming steel decks on tubular steel legs which were pinned to the face of the first floor slab, where it forms a void over the exposed laboratories.

A second building, taller, narrower and linked via a glass-clad footbridge, masks services and plant with reflective zinc louvres from the first to fourth floors, and at ground floor houses the main reception, a cafeteria and a much-lauded lecture theatre which features a range of soothing green tones across seating, ceiling and floor, with random seats picked out in red. 

Our design combined a steel frame with a concrete substructure; the labs, which comprise 60 % of the interior workspace, were set on a suspended ground slab which runs beneath both buildings 6 m below ground level, surrounded by pile walls. We specified a high grade of waterproofing to protect the delicate equipment. Stability for the main building was gained through the concrete roof plate acting as a diaphragm, transferring loads from various inclined columns back to the staircases, which were designed as extruded boxes cantilevering from the ground with integrated braces. 

Inspiring architecture with complex internal structure for a new university building

LOCATION
London, UK
CLIENT
Queen Mary and Westfield College
ARCHITECT
SMC Alsop, AMEC
PROJECT VALUE
£ 25.5 million
COMPLETION
2005
FLOOR AREA
10,500 m²
AWARDS
  • 2009 International Architecture Award 
  • 2006 Civic Trust Award 
  • 2006 RIBA Award  
  • 2005 Structural Steel Design Award – Shortlisted  
  • 2005 Leaf Award – Best Use of Technology within a Large Scheme