Centre for Competitive Creative Design (C4D), Cranfield University

This project is a new addition to the Cranfield University campus near Milton Keynes. The campus is situated on a former RAF airbase. It specializes in high tech and aeronautical research and it is still an active airfield.

The building is designed with high levels of transparency. One side of the studio faces back into the campus and acts as a shop window, where design innovations can be displayed to passing students and staff. The other side offers views of the adjacent airfield. Light aircraft taxi around within a few metres of the studio. To control the high levels of engine noise, glass with a high acoustic performance has been used. Fresh air is brought through the ground and fed through a floor plenum so that it is thermally and acoustically baffled.

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Two larch-clad timber volumes, containing smaller offices and other ancillary accommodation, flank the central main studio space. The roof has been designed as an orthogonal lattice of glulam timber beams, which ties the volumes together and forms a dramatic overhang on the sunward sides. The shifting of the roof plane prevents direct solar glare and creates a covered external canopy. The roof structure is topped by an array of folded northlights, arranged on the diagonal, so that from different angles the roof appears as a regular saw tooth or an oblique cluster of tail fins. The geometry of the building is a natural consequence of the requirement for an even light quality in the studio.