The atrium connects new facilities to the north with the existing Sir John Everett Millais Building to the south and functions as a major arrival space, social learning area and a venue for large events such as gala dinners, exhibitions, fashion shows - previously, there was no significant congregational space on the campus for this.
Overall, this £33 million, 10,000 sq m, BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated, city-centre development provides Solent with a ‘mixed economy’ of innovative, centrally timetabled, general teaching and learning spaces comprising 35 classrooms, 5 lecture rooms, 2 lecture theatres, along with a café, conference centre, kitchen, fine dining and bar area.
Activating and enriching space
The Spark is activated by people flowing through the spaces, by their interactions with each other and with elements of the building. Individual and collective experiences differ from day-to-day and from day-to-night.
The atrium and surrounding spaces are enriched by ambient light introduced by the long linear roof-lights which from time-to-time reveal clouds passing by on the prevailing south westerly breeze.
Eye-catching sunlight and shadow patterns animate the atrium walls and the glazed main entrance ‘brings’ the Grade II Listed East Park ‘into the building’ – connecting occupants to the outside world and to the passing of the seasons.
Movement of the trees, people in the park and atrium are reflected in the high gloss finish of The Pod which appears to glow red at night as light emanates from the building.
See and share
The design uses transparency and openness to promote movement and to encourage people to see and share learning and teaching experiences, knowledge and research. To aid user orientation and way-finding, key destinations are visible from the atrium and between floor levels. Circulation arrangements are clear, simple and on show.
The upper floor level horizontal circulation routes are designed as open gallery walkways with glass balustrading - linked vertically with an open feature staircase. This arrangement further animates the atrium with people movement, maximises natural light penetration, the sense of space, openness and connectivity and ensures good passive surveillance of all areas.
It is only by moving around The Spark that it is possible to fully understand and appreciate the nature and synergy of the different elements which give the building its dynamic, engaging and uplifting character.
Moving inward from the main entrance, building users are offered changing views of key elements such as The Pod, the theatre steps leading to the podium level lecture theatres, the bridges, the upper floor balconies and ‘window-boxes’ and fleeting glimpses of the ‘super-graphics’ beyond-the pristine white screen walls.
In contrast, building users walking along the upper floor levels’, open gallery walkways are able to examine The Pod in closer detail, gain an overview of activities within the below atrium and look out over the tree-tops in East Park to the Civic Quarter beyond.
All the while, moving images on the large HD digital media wall add to the sense of activity and interaction and provide insights into the full academic life of the university.