Initial plans for Newcastle University’s £58 million Urban Sciences Building are being unveiled today ahead of a public consultation this evening.
Housing the University’s world-class School of Computing Science, the development will be at the forefront of urban innovation and includes a public performance space, a decision theatre for the visualisation and interpretation of urban data, an urban farm and a rooftop wild-flower meadow.
Bringing together a range of research disciplines under the banner of digitally-enabled urban sustainability, the aim is to create a living laboratory where everything from the infrastructure and environment to even the building itself are used to develop and design sustainable solutions for the future.
Teaching is also at the heart of the design, and the plans include a state-of-the-art lecture theatre and a flexible learning environment to encourage collaboration and engagement.
Developing proposals with Hawkins\Brown, Buro Happold and bd Landscape Architects, Newcastle University will submit a planning application in the next few weeks. Tonight, a public meeting is being held at The Core, the first building to be completed on Science Central, to give local residents the opportunity to see the initial plans.
Newcastle University's Professor John Fitzgerald, a computer scientist and a lead member of the University’s Science Central team, said: "This is a significant step in the design and development of the Urban Sciences Building and gives us an opportunity to make the plans more widely available to staff, students, our key partners in business and industry and the public.
“The vision for the Science Central site is urban sustainability underpinned by digital technology and the School of Computing Science will be central to that plan.”
Digitally-enabled urban sustainability
Science Central is Newcastle’s £250 million flagship project bringing together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry to create a global centre for urban innovation in the heart of the city.
Originally the Elswick Colliery, then later the production centre for Newcastle Brown Ale, the 24-acre site has been Newcastle’s industrial heart for 200 years.
Now the site is being transformed into an exemplar of urban sustainability, a ‘living laboratory’ where innovative urban technologies will be trialled.
Led by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council through the Science City partnership, the development will include a low carbon energy centre, a unique £2 million grid connected energy storage test bed and smart grid network that will allow the development of new technologies for maximising efficiency, availability and sustainability of energy across the UK power grid.
The University's Urban Sciences Building will be home to around 1,500 staff and students and will also house:
- a unique Cyber-Physical Laboratory, dedicated to understanding the complex interaction between technology and society and reduce our vulnerability to cyber-attack and software failure.
- an Urban Observatory and Decision Theatre, allowing real time data from the city to be analysed and explored so we can improve our understanding of the interaction between our city’s energy, water, transport, waste and digital control systems.
- the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data, training a new generation of experts who will extract useful information from the vast amounts of data now being collected from sensors, people and computer applications. Big data research projects with multi-billion dollar industry partners Red Hat and Microsoft will also be based there, and a Cloud Innovation Centre will enable regional businesses and the public sector to better exploit the opportunities created by cloud computing and big data.
- the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics, to explore how digital technologies can be used to promote public participation in the design and delivery of local services like education, public health and city planning
Work is due to begin on the Urban Sciences Building later this year with a planned completion date of September 2017.
The public event is being held tonight (Wednesday 14th January) from 5 to 7.30pm at The Centre for Professional and Executive Development, The Core, Bath Lane, Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 5TF.
Members of the project team will be at the event to discuss the plans and answer any questions.
A video walk through of the Urban Sciences Building is available via the University’s YouTube channel.
published on: 14 January 2015