Calculated Design

 03 Aug 2014

At this well-established and well regarded British institution devoted to teaching top level skills in money management, the theme for each individual floor couldn’t have taken their inspiration from a more appropriate source: bank notes.

The face of the Exeter University Business School is a building calculated to be not only visually exciting and encouraging of learning, but also takes some of the inspiration for its interiors from a most befitting source.

The HLM Architects-designed $16 million, 3,000 square metre new structure for Exeter University Business School in Exeter houses a new centralised entrance, a large café with open-plan learning and teaching spaces, together with staff and student support areas on the ground floor. On the floors above are lecture theatres, classrooms, research spaces and a third-floor management suite. Exeter is a regional town (population around 120,000) situated just in from the south-western coast of Britain, on the river Exe in Devon.

Paper money’s direct, thematic influence meanwhile can be seen in the green, orange, pink and purple accents that were chosen for the interiors to reflect a wealth of different currencies – notably Pounds Sterling, the Euro and the Yen.

The currency-inspired colours are a witty, striking element in a brand new building for a school that has been commissioned with some very strong and very clear ideals. These included: a) that it be a place that was visually exciting and that reflected the international business school’s existing ambience and distinct character; and b) that it be a facility featuring “learning spaces which encourage and enable innovative teaching, promoting a variety of learning styles, group work and self study,” explains interior designer Joanna Armley from HLM Architects.

“The functionality perfectly meets the demands of this type of area”

“Business school spaces should be businesslike,” adds Richard Parsons, HLM Director in charge of the project. “It is more than offices and more than classrooms and has to match the aspirations of students and potential students while providing a practical learning environment. Nowadays, new academic buildings should also satisfy the aspiration of university stakeholders to make minimal impact on the environment.” To this end, HLM have designed a building that is state-of-the-art in energy efficiency terms and that has achieved a BREEAM (BRE Energy Assessment Method) ‘Excellent’ rating. Solar hot water panels have been included on the roof, there are high levels of insulation and air-tightness as well as the inclusion of natural ventilation methods.

Fixed bespoke joinery elements enhance all areas including in the café/learning area and there are breakout island bars on the open balconies and in built-in storage to all open plan office spaces. In the island bars Zip HydroTap has provided an attractive, energy-efficient way to deliver instant boiling and chilled and filtered water – and befit the building’s superior environmental credentials.

“They have the right aesthetic for this type of business environment as they are so neat in their design,” adds Armley. “The functionality perfectly meets the demands of this type of area, and being able to make a few cups at a time with no mess means that the area can be kept tidy and has a clean aesthetic,” she says. “The way these taps work with the integrated font means that any drips and spillages are caught and avoid becoming a problem to clean up.”

The Zip HydroTap is an integral part of very successful design that’s been remarkably well received. “This wonderful new space will support our ambitious growth plans, and help us to realise our vision of being an internationally renowned business school,” says Professor Robin Mason, Associate Dean of Education at the Business School. “It creates a cohesive business school campus suitable for undergraduate, post- graduate and international students. And it provides the learning environment, ambience and image to make us stand out in an increasingly competitive market place.”
 "Article taken from Boiling Point issue no.17, published by the Indesign Media Asia Pacific. Words by Guy Allenby. Photography by Trevor Burrows. Architect: HLM Architects"