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Visit to 'The Barn' Nottingham University, Sutton Bonnington


We attended a talk and tour of ‘The Barn’ - the final of the East Midlands RIBA ‘Best of British Buildings’ series for 2015. After some light refreshments the talk began and we were introduced to  David Patterson of Make Architects.

David gave us a presentation of the evolution of their ideas for the campus and how these fed in to the design of ‘The Barn’. He explained how the building has been designed to help student movement around the campus and to make the most of the views of the surrounding landscape.
At the heart of the campus, it replaces  older buildings that obstructed circulation. There is a dining hall, a common room, and a range of other student facilities over three floors.

We  began with a climb upstairs. The sloping brick balustrade is designed to deter students from leaving  drinks, to avoid casualties below. The grand stair leads up to the first floor where the stunning main dining hall opens out.

It is a dramatic space serving  up to 500 students at any one time. It is also used as an event space for larger groups. The double-height space creates an open, airy environment with lots of natural light. The large brick vents are illuminated from high level concealed glazing, washing light down the walls. The large windows at the end of the room provide a view over an area currently under development as a green space.
Local buff brick is used throughout giving the architecture a sense of warmth and texture. The use of brick detailing gives the larger spaces a personal scale.

Contrasting materials are used to great effect on the sides of the building and on the roof, where a sedum carpet softens the surface and makes a visual link with the landscape.

The entrance concourse is a large elegant space providing a covered route through the site and giving impressive views of the campus to the side.   

The Barn achieved  BREEAM 'excellent' status through the use of air-source heat pumps, solar hot water panels and low energy lighting.
Rob Purdy


Another View 'The Barn'

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