As part of a larger project to enhance student services, we worked on the new resource centre for Sheffield University. The five to seven storey concrete frame structure houses study spaces, book stacks, classrooms, offices and a visitor centre.
At the building's north elevation, the upper floors are saw-toothed in plan, with glazing on the inner flat edge of each tooth and copper cladding on the curved outer edge. The ground floor is extensively glazed with some stone treatment. The south elevation is a straight plane; here the floor plate is stepped back to allow for a full height lightwell, with a steel and glass scissor stair providing circulation to all levels.
The concrete frame is exposed to provide thermal mass. To achieve a high quality finish while maximizing floor to ceiling heights, we proposed a flat slab Cobiax floor system. Permanent precast concrete shutters formed a base onto which an in situ concrete topping was poured. Voids were introduced into the poured concrete using air-filled plastic balls — 40% of which used recycled plastics. This reduced structural mass by 20% helped to minimize foundation loads.