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Architectural award for Tremough Campus, Penryn

Tremough Campus, Penryn, has been selected as South West Regional Winner in the Regeneration category of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards 2005. Architect Jonathan Adams, of Capita Percy Thomas in Cardiff, will receive the award at a regional ceremony in Wells on Wednesday 22 June 2005. Tremough will now be considered for the national RICS awards, including Building of the Year, which are announced in October 2005.

The £50 million development at Tremough has added 17,000 square metres of space to the existing buildings on the campus. Investment was through the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative, principally by the Objective One European Regional Development Fund and the UK Government (South West Regional Development Agency and Higher Education Funding Council for England), with support from Cornwall County Council. The contractor was Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, which awarded 45% of the subcontracts to local companies.

The Tremough Campus is believed to be unique in the UK, because it is used and managed jointly by two independent institutions of higher education: University College Falmouth and the University of Exeter in Cornwall. This collaboration has determined the shape of the new building, which was completed in October 2004 on time and on budget, after two years' construction work. Areas such as teaching rooms, the library, computer rooms and social spaces (bars, the refectory and the sports centre) are shared and placed at the centre of the campus.

In a conventional university setting, the more specialised teaching areas, such as design studios for University College Falmouth and scientific laboratories for the University of Exeter would be housed in separate buildings, but at Tremough they adjoin and interlock, forming a single complex around the piazza that is at the heart of the campus.

Indoors, form follows function. Falmouth's Design Centre is a curving series of terraced open-plan studios which allow students and staff to pick up and share ideas across a range of design disciplines, from garden design to textile design or contemporary crafts. Exeter's laboratories and offices, which include the new premises of Camborne School of Mines, are a more traditional linear arrangement of discrete rectangular spaces that are easily adapted to the different needs of, for example, geography, geology and biological sciences.

"For a design on this scale," said Jonathan Adams, "you need to think of it as a village, not as a building. Open spaces are as important as the closed spaces (the rooms); people should be able to get from A to B by more than one route; and those routes should have interest and variety in them, not just straight lines." His inspiration is the organic urban landscape that can be seen in historic towns from Cornwall to Italy, with buildings, courtyards, archways, twisting streets and a focus in the main public square or piazza. This is where you arrive; this is where you will bump into friends; and it is the space you cross to move from teaching rooms to cafe.

Jonathan Adams has also given thought to the impact of the construction on the local economy and environment. "If we used local stone and slate for a building of this size, we could monopolise the local suppliers and they would lose the regular customers whom they need long after this project is finished. The main walls are therefore made of 'stonecrete' – Cornish granite (some of it taken from the ground at Tremough) embedded in cast concrete." He continued, "The concrete is rough-textured and tinted in earth colours, so the walls will look as though they have grown organically from the earth they stand on. They are capped with a fully glazed top floor level, and I like to think of this as a metaphor for the education that is carried out inside the building. You start with rough-hewn materials in the lower walls and rise to the roof line, where you see a much more polished, shaped and sophisticated product."

Professor Alan Livingston, Chair of the CUC Steering Group and Principal of University College Falmouth said: "Tremough is the Hub of the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative. The RICS award is witness to the high standards and high aspirations that the partner institutions of CUC, the architects and the contractors are applying to the expansion of higher education in Cornwall. It is particularly fitting that Tremough has gained the Regeneration award. The purpose of CUC and certainly the purpose of Objective One, which has provided much of the investment in this major project is to bring new momentum to the economy of Cornwall, by creating new graduate level skills and jobs and by making higher education more accessible to the people of Cornwall."

Professor Keith Atkinson, Chair of the CUC Executive Group and Provost of the University of Exeter in Cornwall said: "CUC is a unique partnership and it is very apt that the Tremough building, a shared facility in every respect, should gain the RICS award. As the centre of a major regeneration project based on Higher Education, the building also represents a statement about sustainability. It is fitting that part of the University of Exeter's research, and taught portfolio, is concerned with Renewable Energy for which the building itself is an excellent case study."

The RICS Awards scheme was set up in 1990 to reward projects that have regard for the natural and built environment. Winners must show both excellence in their category and a commitment to value for money and sustainability. The awards recognise organisations and projects worldwide, from the single individual to multi-million-pound developments.

For further information contact Martin Horrox at University College Falmouth on 01326 213756 or email:, or Stuart Franklin at University of Exeter on 01392 263146 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall project through European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Editor's notes:

For further information contact:

Martin Horrox, University College Falmouth, Woodlane, Falmouth TR11 4RH
Tel: 01326 213756

Stuart Franklin, University of Exeter, The Queen's Drive, Exeter, UK EX4 4QJ
Tel: 01392 263146


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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