Scott Brownrigg's design for University of Reading Malaysia Campus gets shortlisted for World Architecture Festival Award

04.07.13

Scott Brownrigg’s design for the University of Reading Malaysia Campus at EduCity in Bandar Nusajaya, Johor Bahru has made the Future Project Education Award shortlist at this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF).

The festival, which will be held this year in Singapore from the 2-4 October, provides the largest gathering of the global architectural community, with over 60 countries represented. A fully inclusive festival awards programme recognises architectural excellence and some of the world’s best designed buildings, both completed and in development.

The University of Reading Malaysia campus (UoRM) will be the first overseas campus in Asia for the University.  At the forefront of this new wave of global education, the University is looking to successfully translate its first-class UK resources and world-class teaching to students within the Asia-Pacific region.  Scott Brownrigg’s design effectively captures this with a UK concept design, underpinned by local team delivery.

Located in the south of peninsula Malaysia, the 30,000 sq.m UoRM scheme has been designed as part of the Malaysian Government’s EduCity development. Due to open in September 2015, the campus will provide 2,500 students with a world-class university and learning experience.  The campus will include a range of faculties from law, to construction, finance, and business, with the University’s’ Henley Business School, one of the world’s leading business educators, providing the business programmes.

A strong environmental message has been incorporated into the design, which responds to the different and challenging climatic conditions,  local construction techniques and cultural sensitivities; these have provided a number of design opportunities, together with a simple, direct and singular approach to the design concept.

Beyond its excellence as a leading provider of quality education, the University of Reading provides an experience that is also defined by its historic and mature landscaped setting. This has led to the creation of a ‘terrarium’, a living embodiment of the Reading experience, coupled with a thorough understanding of the teaching and operational requirements of a mixed-teaching campus facility.

Based upon a simple forum approach, buildings are arranged around a covered heart space, blurring the edges between buildings and landscape, light and shade, students and staff, formal and informal, learning and social aspects of life.

Two parallel teaching ‘wings’ enclose a connecting and unifying green ‘Forum’. This space flows up from the main entrance over the Learning Resource Centre to the central lecture theatres, and forms the social meeting and interaction space for the whole campus, with a social amphitheatre at its centre. A combination of hard external-quality surfaces, soft natural planting, and grasses provide the right degree of comfort and shade, and hard wearing capabilities.

Diagonal ramps cross and define this space, allowing the contours to rise gently up to first floor level, with suspended bridges above that echo these ramps; the whole providing connectivity between the main teaching blocks whilst maintaining and reinforcing the social "heart" intend of the design.

An ETFE cushion roof protects the heart space from direct sunlight and rain, yet permits a controlled type of light to facilitate growth of the natural planting in the Forum, creating a protected lush green environment for people to enjoy working, learning, living and socialising within. This element is captured within and surrounded by a large over-sailing roof which unifies the overall concept of the linear teaching blocks.

The two main blocks are of simple practical construction, which are then over-clad with an open screen metal cladding, providing an element of solar shading, which together with the over-sailing roof, are a unifying and elegant element to the overall concept. The unified simplicity of the overall design concept maintains connectivity between all areas of the buildings, whilst ensuring simple flexibility and adaptability for the future as teaching requirements evolve.

Scott Brownrigg’s specialist education team in the UK, working in partnership with its recently established South East Asia office and local designers has brought greater understanding of the culture and climatic conditions within the region and has enabled radical thinking about materials and environmental strategies, as well as pushing the boundaries of educational functionality which drive the design to arrive at an innovative new campus embodying the spirit of the University of Reading.

Colin Robbins, Director of Estates and Facilities, University of Reading said:

“We wanted to ensure that the unique offering, first-class resources and world-class teaching we offer our students within the UK would be successfully translated into the Asia-Pacific region at EduCity in Iskandar. Working as a partnership between UK and local teams has ensured that quality and experience underpins the development, every step of the way.  Our concept architect has successfully captured the essence of the University and translated it into a flexibly designed, sustainable campus, which will provide a great experience for students”.

Scott Brownrigg’s South East Asia office is located at One Raffles Place, Singapore. The office is the latest addition to the practice's expanding international presence. An event to mark its official launch will be held in Singapore in September.  

View shortlist