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University of Sheffield, UK

RMJM Architects

RMJM was appointed in November 2003 as architects and lead consultant to design the 17.5 million University of Sheffield Information Commons project.

The building is predominantly 5 storeys high with a 7 storey high ‘pavilion’ element at the northwest corner of the site. It will provide 1,100 new study spaces in a 24/7 integrated learning environment for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The project is located on the prominent University Upper Hanover Street site that is situated at the eastern edge of the University’s Western Bank and adjacent to the university tram stop. It is bordered on two sides by Upper Hanover Street and Brookhill. These are the two main roads linking Western Bank to the city centre.

The orientation of the site has generated an overall building configuration with a general north – south long axis. This in turn produces substantial east and west elevations. This situation, coupled with the noise generated by traffic along Upper Hanover Street, provided the design team with the challenge to resolve issues related thermal, acoustic and visual performance.

To resolve these, the team looked closely at the performance of the building’s ‘skin’. The development of the ‘north light gills’ provided both a distinctive image and minimized the impact of solar glare and heat gain. These elements provide ‘intimate localised views’ to the south and east whilst larger windows express the range of single and double height spaces. These apertures are predominately north facing and provide controlled natural daylight and visual connection to the outside from deeper within the plan.

The building is clad in two primary materials. The flexible open plan study space is clad in pre-patinated copper. Its pre-weathered, green-blue texture and coloration enhances the building’s sense of confidence and dynamism. To complement the copper and to express the ‘cubic’ form of the pavilion, a dark grey terracotta tile has been used.

In March 2005, HBG were appointed as the main contractor following a competitive two stage design & build tender. RMJM architects were novated to HBG, allowing the early design philosophy to be maintained and developed during the construction stages. The project team have worked closely with Hirsch, the envelope subcontractor, and have utilized an insulated composite sheet to initially weatherproof the building. This allows for the internal packages to be started whilst care can be given to the ‘crafting’ of the pre-patinated copper and terracotta ‘skin’.



University of Sheffield
Completion date: 
United Kingdom
Zip code: 
S3 7RD
44 Leavygreave Road


Type of building: 
Copper used: 


Name, office: 
Address & description: 
83 Paul Street, London EC2A 4UT



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