University looks to create iconic new engineering and design facility

The University of Plymouth is looking to reinforce its reputation as an innovative centre of excellence for engineering and design research, teaching and learning.

A competitive dialogue process has been launched today by RIBA Competitions, seeking possible designs for an iconic new Engineering and Design facility on the western edge of the main Plymouth campus.

It will provide a new home for the University’s School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics as well as providing additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture.

The new facility – a key component of the University’s Campus Masterplan – will involve a dedicated new-build component and refurbishment of the 1970s Babbage Building, creating more than 10,000m² of research and teaching space.

It will combine re-equipped laboratories with modern, state-of-the-art resources that will enable engineering research to underpin the fourth industrial revolution, and create the attractive environment necessary to attract and retain high-calibre staff and students.

It will also inspire the development of new inter-disciplinary activities in teaching, learning and research, and nurture the innovative graduate engineers demanded by future society.

The new building will complement existing world-class facilities on campus – already used extensively by students, researchers and industry – and support initiatives including the Supergen ORE Hub, created with £9million funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and iMayflower, recently awarded £3.5million by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, Head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, said:

“For centuries, engineers have been our key innovators, developing forward thinking solutions to some of the planet’s biggest problems. But if we want them to continue on that path, we need to offer facilities that will enable them to harness the latest technologies and push their creative boundaries. This new building will offer a state-of-the-art setting to inspire the engineers of tomorrow, giving us the ultimate place to bring together students, academics and industry in an environment that not only benefits them but also society as a whole.”

Professor Chris Bennewith, Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture, added:

“Plymouth is currently undergoing something of a creative revolution. It is bringing design and digital innovation to the fore and ensuring the city’s creative sector can realise its potential and offer new opportunities, spaces and skills. This new facility will enhance the University’s place at the forefront of that, and mean we can continue to attract and nurture the design stars of the future.”

Through the RIBA process, it is anticipated that between three and five bid teams will be shortlisted and invited to participate in the dialogue phase. It will include design approach workshop sessions, leading to the submission of final tenders in early October 2019.

The estimated timescale for completion of the new combined facility is summer 2022.

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