The Forum, a hub for students designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects has been opened at the University of Exeter. The £48 million project provides a new entrance for the University’s Streatham campu...
The Forum, a hub for students designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects has been opened at the University of Exeter. The £48 million project provides a new entrance for the University’s Streatham campus and houses new student facilities and teaching accommodation beneath a soaring timber-framed ETFE and copper roof.
Wilkinson Eyre’s starting point for the Forum project was the natural features of Exeter's famously hilly Streatham campus. The orientation and arrangement of the building and its adjacent landscaped piazzas respond to the contours of the hillside setting, which are traced by a “green corridor”; the main pedestrian route through the scheme.
The steep topography of the hillside has been rationalized into two circulation levels that connect the Library and the Great Hall, unifying two vital centres once separated by a steep slope.
The Forum’s roof encloses 3,500 sq m of airy, column-free floor area making it one of the largest timber roofs of its kind. Its flowing form contrasts with the orthogonal brick architecture of the existing campus, responding to the hillside setting and preserving key views across the city to Dartmoor.
Beneath the roof’s copper cladding, which will gracefully develop a verdigris patina over the next 15 years, lies an innovative hybrid timber structure. A matrix of timber members joined at steel nodes emulates the traditionally all-steel construction of a gridshell roof, weaving between the existing buildings of the campus.
Wood was chosen as key material when research revealed that a botanical garden once grew on the Forum site before the University was built.