Architects Patel Taylor have completed work on two new buildings for Essex University in keeping with the campus’ Brutalist tradition.
The practice designed the Silberrad Student Centre as well as a wing addition to the Albert Sloman Library – both conceived to interact with the campus’ original 1960s masterplan by architect Kenneth Capon.
‘Architecturally, the detailing, mix and finishes of the in-situ concrete are crisper and finer than the original campus, reflecting a contemporary expression of the material, distinct from the exposed aggregates and rough textures preferred in Britain during the 1960s and 70s,’ said Roger Meyer, an associate at the practice.
Patel Taylor were initially commissioned to design a single building that would provide both a student centre and additional library space, but the firm opted for two separate structures, each with its own purpose.
The Silberrad Student Centre sits on a deck of stone at the edge of a lake in the campus. Its slender columns and the horizontal trays that make up the structure reference the site’s existing Brutalist design.
A centrepiece steel and oak staircase – made in parts by shipbuilders in Belfast – brings a contemporary touch to the concrete backdrop.
Patel Taylor’s addition to the Albert Sloman Library adopts the same metal frame windows and material palette as the original building.
‘Splitting the library’s new wing and the student centre’s functions into two distinct buildings allowed us to work within the masterplan and extend the library with a structure that pays very deliberate respect to the original, but without simply replicating,’ added Meyer.
Patel Taylor previously worked on the Ivor Crewe Lecture Theatre at Essex University.