"The university was adamant that the structure look like an academic building," says Johnston. "The key to reconciling the two programmes and meeting the client's brief lay in the development of an interlocking planning diagram."
Consequently, the design presents a highly articulated facade, incorporating a high degree of glazing, which enables the building to be read as academic in nature and purpose. Meanwhile, the interior can be segregated to accommodate the two distinct uses.
"At the heart of the design was the division of spaces to create two separate zones within the fabric of the building envelope. The academic spaces, which require adequate natural light and ventilation, have been set around the perimeter of the northern and western facades, while the sporting facilities have been placed along the eastern party wall and the southern facade."
Each zone also has its own entry. A full-height central atrium punctuates the Foundation Studies space creating a vibrant, light-filled, active social space for students outside formal classes. Casual seating and zones for informal study are located around this area and primary vertical circulation is located within this space.
A double-height atrium welcomes visitors to the Unipol zone. All visitors pass through this space so open sightlines were imperative. A cafe, open to the general public, is also located within the atrium.
"The large flexible gymnasium spaces are on the first floor," says Johnston. "This location allows high-span elements to be placed at roof level, thus achieving a high level of structural efficiency."