New College for the University of Durham at Howlands Farm

This proposal for a new Durham College attempts to create a place which appears to have been carved from its rural landscape site. The principal materials, limestone and profiled Cor-ten steel, are heavy and earthy but are set in counterpoint by multi-coloured anodised aluminium and delicate oak details. The whole is cloaked in a web of vegetation, quiet and modest on the exposed site, becoming more bold close to the College and delicately refined within.

The buildings are individually simple in geometry but are linked in a three-dimensional manner which exploits the special qualities of the site and surroundings while attempting not to impede upon them. Thus as people move between the buildings, they will appreciate the quality not only of their immediate environment but also of the nature in which the College is set.

The rectilinear central facilities have a reserved urban ambience about a sunken paved court. By contrast, residential accommodation is provided in a series of rusty buildings which trail like shadows across the pasture. Straight-flight stairs lead to the rooms, an arrangement which allows the penetration of sun deep into the building and access onto the grassed flat roofs.

Client : Durham University
Architects : Studio Granda
Landscape Architect : Janet Jack
Structural Engineers : Línuhönnun / Sam Price & partners
Environmental Engineers : Max Fordham & Partners
Quantity Surveyors : Davis Langdon & Everest