Original features

August 6, 2009

The University of Gloucestershire's Centre for Active Learning in Cheltenham was designed to embrace a philosophy of collaboration between students and staff.

A consultation process in 2003-04 led to requests for "a really wicked space" where students could hang out, have a coffee and work.

For the architect, Peter Clegg of Feilden Clegg Bradley, the challenge was to create a vibrant contemporary environment within the context of a Grade 2* listed mock-Gothic campus, built by the Church of England in 1847 as a teacher-training college.

Although determined to avoid the cliches of quadrangles and ivy-clad towers, he echoed the shapes of the surrounding Victorian structures and utilised limestone from the same local quarry used in the original structure, while making extensive use of new materials such as part-recycled pre-patinated copper.

The interior is divided into resource, project and conference zones on separate floors to maximise flexibility. Plasma screens in the lobbies display news and detail the responsibilities of working in a sustainable building.

Inspirational quotes about learning - taken from sources ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Confucius - decorate the walls.

Send suggestions for this architectural series to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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