Queen’s University’s new Business School building sits within its Riddel Hall campus, in south Belfast.
The site identified by the University, consists a lawn that sits in front of the Grade II listed Riddel Hall building and a surface carpark, some 4.5m below and enclosed by mature woodland.
The building contains differing types and sizes of teaching and learning accommodation for post- graduate students, together with facilities to support the School’s executive education and leadership programmes, together with informal study areas, academic offices and shared spaces.
The plan diagram emerged from an analysis of how people would move through the building, with a route established linking the main entrance on the lower ground floor to a secondary entrance at the lawn level above for staff and students.
A linear, top lit, triple height atrium is the building’s principal organising device, where a feature stair provides access from the reception at its base to the upper ground floor, where informal study booths overlook a landscaped courtyard, with accommodation on this level and the one above, arranged around it.
Primary teaching spaces are restricted to the lower ground floor, with large volume lecture theatres, set into the surrounding landscape to lessen their visual impact.
The architectural response carefully knits the building into its sensitive landscaped setting and seeks to ensure a connectivity for its users with the surrounding mature woodland.
The external palette of materials is consciously restrained, combining red clay brick, bronze framed aluminium, floor to ceiling glazed screens and red cast stone, the latter used principally to delineate entrance colonnades, at the upper and lower entrances.
Internally within circulation spaces, exposed concrete soffits with floating ceiling rafts, board marked concrete walls, timber wall sheeting and terrazzo tiled floors, combine to create a calm, robust, and understated aesthetic.
A low energy, ecologically sensitive design approach was promoted from the outset, with a BREEAM Excellent standard achieved.
Measures adopted include a major geothermal heat system, with an adjoining field of piles driven to a depth of 125m to extract heat from the sandstone sub-strate and provide low level constant heat to the building, via an underfloor heating system.
This will result from a heat generation perspective, in a 10% reduction in lift cycle costs compared to a gas boiler installation and over 60% reduction in carbon emissions.
The £17.5m project (that extended to include the partial refurbishment of the listed property) commenced on site in September 2020 and was completed in May 2023.
Queen's University Belfast
Architect/ Lead Consultant