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Gateway wins architectural award

Buckinghamshire New University’s new flagship building, The Gateway, has scooped a top architectural award.

The striking new building, located at Bucks’s High Wycombe Campus, is one of 102 winners in the UK and Europe of the 2010 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awards for architectural excellence. It is one of eight university buildings to receive awards, and one of three university buildings in the south region.

The RIBA Awards are given to buildings which have high architectural standards and make a substantial contribution to the local environment. In total, seven buildings in the South region won RIBA Awards, including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford.

The RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist will be drawn from the 102 RIBA Award winners, with the prize awarded to the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year. The RIBA Stirling Prize will be presented in London on 2 October 2010.

RIBA President, Ruth Reed, said of the 2010 RIBA Award winners: “The RIBA Awards reflect not only the state of British architecture but also that of its economy. In the midst of the deepest recession in the 45 year history of the RIBA Awards, this year’s winners demonstrate that although times might be hard for architects, there are still great buildings being built throughout the country and overseas.

“The RIBA Awards always give an opportunity for gem-like small projects and less established practices to shine through and this year is no exception. Far from being a size prize, the RIBA Awards are for buildings that offer value to people’s lives. I am looking forward to seeing an exciting RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist.”

The Gateway is part of the Bucks New University’s extensive £60m redevelopment project. A state-of-the-art complex, it offers a rich mix of commercial-standard facilities, including a sports/events hall, fitness centre and performance lab, dance and drama studios, music recording studios and video production suites, a modern integrated learning resources centre and meeting and conference rooms. The combination of facilities enables interaction between students from a variety of disciplines.

With a focus on community involvement, local people are also able to make use of the building’sfacilities including the events hall, fitness centre and library, and its location creates a new public space for the town.

The six storey building is clad in a stainless steel material with a surface that produces colour through a refractory process, so that as the light changes it creates an iridescence of greens, violets and blues reminiscent of topical fish - completing a memorable and spectacular ‘gateway’ to the University and High Wycombe.

Designed by RMJM Architects and built by BAM Construction, the University’s vision was to create a sustainable yet contemporary building that provides facilities for the whole student body, and contrasts with the existing campus architecture to establish a new and distinctive identity.

Trevor Nicholls, Pro Vice Chancellor, Estates & Facilities, at Bucks New University, said: “Since The Gateway opened last September, it has greatly enhanced the experiences of our students through its first class facilities and the opportunities it can provide for students to work together across a wide range of disciplines.

“We are very pleased to have won this award, and it serves as an acknowledgement of Bucks as a modern and innovative institution, which has the needs of the local environment at its heart.”

Murdoch Cameron, project director at RMJM Architects, said: ‘’The Gateway is a unique fusion of facilities on an exceptionally challenging site, and I am delighted the project has received this award.

“It is deserved recognition for the vision and persistence of our client and the skills and dedication of the design team and contractor. We are privileged to have been able to create this remarkable learning environment.”