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Campus Canopy Link, University of Stirling.  

420m2 'canopy' pavillion building linking existing campus buildings to create informal learning zones and meeting spaces, while establishing a new unified route through the University of Stirling campus

Project – New Courtyard Canopy Link building

Client – University of Stirling

Contract Value - circa £3.8m (combined projects)


This project was located within an existing courtyard of the Cottrell Building, on the University of Stirling Campus. The University campus is often described as one of the most beautiful in Britain, with extensive high quality landscape planting and is set within 330 acres of grounds beneath the Ochil Hills.

The Cottrell Building has the highest footfall of the buildings on campus, occupying a central location at the heart of the grounds.

The Cottrell Building is also one of the largest buildings on campus and also acts as a ‘gateway’ to the University for both Students and visitors, providing linkages to both the student accommodation to the North and a link bridge to the Andrew Millar Building.

Having completed a number of successful projects for the University of Stirling, we approached by them with a unique and exciting brief: we have a large and picturesque campus, but it’s lacking in a place of arrival for students/visitors and there is no clearly defined route through the campus. Can we put our existing external courtyard(s) to better use and can we establish a new primary route through the University?  

With the above in mind, we worked with the University to establish a series of high level strategic options for establishing this new route and placement of the linkage building. The ‘A Courtyard’ within the Cottrel Building was established as a key opportunity to provide a unique and well used social and learning destination to take advantage of a new, defined campus circulation route and linkage to the recently completed major Bus Terminus. Strategically this was the best courtyard space for a new link building, as it served as the arterial pedestrian linkage between student residences, key lecture theatres, the recently completed INTO Building and Andrew Millar Building. Immediately to the South of this courtyard also had the benefit of being the principle entrance to the Cottrell Building, whilst the North boundary is linked with the pedestrian bridge offering access to student accommodation; hence the significant footfall.

At present the students are required to cross through the open courtyard between classes in adverse weather conditions carrying coursework. After much brainstorming and many sketches, our proposals centred upon a new covered Courtyard Pavilion that sought to provide a positive, nature focussed, learning space. This ‘pavillion’ would be a structurally freestanding element fully glazed on both sides, with interspersed columns supporting a seeming floating sculpted roof – referencing the tree canopys of the many forested areas surrounding the site. This also had the benefit of using the existing floor area to greatly enhance the student experience.

These proposals were designed to provide an informal meeting space for idea exchanges, whilst optimising the existing café offer with increased internal and external seating areas. Whilst it was envisaged that a large proportion of the use will come from informal learning, the plan was been designed so as to include for various academic learning zones, specific to different teaching styles.

The guiding design principles for these proposals were largely informed through providing an internal garden that blurs the boundaries between internal and external learning spaces. The aim was to achieve a design that adopts a light touch on the existing building (with only soft type joints at new junctions – and no structural alterations required to the existing) whist maximising the effectiveness of existing floor space. The East and West facades of the proposed pavilion use high quality glass curtain walling to fully exploit natural lighting and a connection with the garden areas. At the North and South junctions, the proposed abuts the existing building, with the freestanding canopy effectively over-sailing the existing corridor upstands. Here it was proposed to provide a clerestory element to both enhance the influx of natural light into the plan, and allow a glimpse of activities within to users of the upper floor levels of the Cottrell Building. The canopy itself is a timber lined cantilevered beam type arrangement, supported from columns located inboard of the curtain walling in plan. On both the East and West facades it is proposed to introduce two solid wall elements that draw on the materiality of the recently completed black granite INTO Building and Sport Science facility under construction. In this way the proposals sought to further provide a unified materiality throughout the campus, to assist in a reading of building stock as a cohesive whole.

It was proposed that the existing poor quality planting and trees are removed, to allow for a new high quality hard and soft landscaped elements on either side of the proposed pavilion. The University has an acclaimed in-house landscape gardening department, with which the proposals here have been developed, and will be maintained upon completion. The full landscape proposals were developed by Ian White Associates (now Raeburn Farquhar Bowen), Landscape Architects, and sought to provide a robust, durable and high quality natural element as a strong asset to the campus.
The Project received full Planning Permission at the beginning of the year.


At present we are in the process of completing the Building Warrant information for the project, whilst simultaneously begging to prepare tender information. The project is due to start early next year, with completion by the end of 2012.  


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