The newly relocated and consolidated campus for Gateway College provides a sense of community and an educational environment fit for the 21st century. The design sought to challenge traditional teaching block layouts and create a sense of ownership by composing individual self-contained ‘pods’ for each faculty housing specialist spaces adjacent to teaching, staff and support areas. Individualised colour schemes and display cases allow the departments to appropriate their wings helping to create an association with and identity for their departments. The ‘street’, a central three-storey link between all faculty wings, provides equal access to all shared facilities (learning resource centre, reception, social space) and generous circulation spaces for annual, temporary and ad-hoc events and activities. The building also includes specialist spaces with separated access and services (e.g. sports hall, performance theatre) allowing certain spaces to remain active ‘after-hours’ for local groups and students. There is external independent access to the sports hall while the theatre is accessed via the internal street.
Barring a level of specialism (e.g. kiln room), the teaching blocks were designed homogenously to allow for expansion and contraction of spaces within the departments, while space was left open to the North of the complex to allow for the blocks themselves to be expanded. A standard grid layout of 4m x 1.5m allows interior partitions to be positioned off grid lines at 1.5m centres and provides the ability to have rooms of differing sizes, set within the pod standard. Power and data points run along a buzz bar underneath a raised access floor and windows are set to a regular rhythm allowing classrooms a capacity to grow or shrink with the easy removal/ addition of dividing stud wall partitions. The theatre spaced contains retractable seating and a high acoustic folding partition allowing the space to be used in its entirety for productions and lectures and as smaller spaces teaching drama and dance simultaneously. The partition wall not only divides the space, but it can also be used as a screen for lectures and a ‘proscenium arch’ for stage productions.
Images courtesy of Nightingale Associates
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