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    University of Birmingham in Dubai


    A loose-fit international campus building to signal purpose and ambition.

    Size:45,520 m²
    Client:The University of Birmingham
    Awards:Prix Versailles Global Architecture & Design Award;
    Construction Business News: Infrastructure Project of the Year.

    The University of Birmingham chose Dubai as the location for its first international campus which sits at the heart of the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), the largest education hub in the Middle East.

    Designed to adapt to fast-changing learning environments, and with a minimum life span of 30 years, our design prioritized flexibility and adaptation. The central atrium, reception, library, lecture theatre, and classrooms are all designed to adapt to a variety of sizes. The main auditorium has raked seating to house 300 students in lecture theatre mode or can be converted into flat flooring for maximum flexibility. Future-proofed labs are interchangeable between dry and wet mode. Spaces for social interaction and informal teaching are plentiful and include shaded external courtyards and a central stair which doubles up as an Amphitheatre.

    The building responds appropriately to its local context whilst referencing the University of Birmingham’s origins. The crescent-shaped building echoes The University’s historic Aston Webb Building at its Edgbaston Campus in the UK. Proportions and materials, including a precast structural system with textured red precast façade echoes the solidity of form expressed at the original ‘red brick’ campus, the UK’s first civic University.

    Sustainability measures include locally-sourced materials and a modular façade system which allowed for factory-controlled quality whilst also speeding up construction time on site. Designed to operate within Dubai’s challenging climate, the building is 50% solid, with bespoke solar shading to all windows and glazed facades. Adjustable angles offer views out but reduce solar gain and lighting consumption. Exposed precast soffits and façades provide thermal mass to help control the temperature from within and an external colonnade provides additional shaded circulation around the building. BMS controls to all spaces will help to monitor occupancy uses and further reduce any unnecessary energy consumption.