Patel Taylor's architectural practice has designed two new buildings for Essex University, a new Silberrad students' centre and a new wing for Albert Sloman Library, setting a high standard of quality for materials and design which will be the benchmark for future buildings on the campus.
In response to the request for a new building to fulfil two functions, the architects came up with a proposal including two separate constructions, each with an identity of its own, but related to one another and to their context. The two new buildings are integrated into the original masterplan created in the 1960s by the Architects Cooperative Partnership and form a natural gateway to the east/west axis on the northern side of the campus.
The architects of Patel Taylor's studio drew their inspiration for the new wing of the library from the main building, constructed in 1963. The new students'centre stands by the lake, where the main gateway to the campus from the southeast is characterised by a big outdoor area with a “forest” of slender pillars supporting its roof. Inside the three-storey-high foyer, the curves of a sculptural steel and wood staircase contrast with bare concrete walls. The staircase was prefabricated in a Belfast shipyard, and assembled on site to form an integral part of the structure.
Design: Patel Taylor
Location: Essex University, UK
Images courtesy of Essex University, photo by Edmund Sumner, Tim Soar