Middlesex University needed a flexible and sustainable campus to suit a diverse range of subjects and new teaching methods.
Architectural journalist Mark Smulian, records the results:
teacher would tell pupils that 17 into one “won’t go,” but that trick is what Middlesex
University has accomplished as it has steadily shed the confusing patchwork of
sites it used to occupy across north London and consolidated its activities at Hendon.
This is not by the standards of traditional university campuses a large space, and it has taken some ingenuity to fit all the requisite buildings onto it – and an investment of some £200m since this programme began in 2000 – with bpr architects having worked with Middlesex right the way through.
The 3,300 m² Ritterman building is the latest piece in the Hendon jigsaw.
Most people enter
the campus through the main entrance, named the Ricketts Quadrangle, and part
of the Ritterman’s purpose is to provide a hub and focus for the far end of the
campus, which previously lacked this.
Named after university chancellor Dame Janet Ritterman, the £18m building was designed with two specific educational ideas in mind.
There is a common perception that scientists and technologists know little of creativity, while their creative arts counterparts are dubious about using technology: put them together and they could learn from each other and find unexpected ways to collaborate.
The other idea was that people learn through practice and as advised by tutors rather than from listening only. So while subjects like fine art and dance require large spaces, in the Ritterman building, the computing, science and robotics laboratories are open-plan, designed so teachers can walk between students and advise them on their work.