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Scott Tallon Walker Architects Win Competition to Design World’s First 5G Research Centre

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The world’s first centre for research into the next stage of mobile technology at the University of Surrey has been revealed by the newly appointed architects, Scott Tallon Walker. The building will house the UK’s largest academic research centre for mobile communications with 130 researchers and around 90 PhD students. The project has been given an urgent status and it is being undertaken immediately and is expected that it will be completed well before the end of next year. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile cellular systems. 3G which is currently in use in the UK as the country transitions to 4G focuses, on speed. 5G’s focus is on network capacity, providing more capacity with lower power consumption.  It’s estimated that 5G will be in use in about eight years’ time.

The competition to design the new 5G Innovation Centre drew strong international competition when the University of Surrey received funding of £35 million last year to develop and fund the project. The funding for the project comes from a variety of sources including the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) government and a range of corporate sponsors from the mobile communications industry. 

Scott Tallon Walker’s concept for the new building creates a flexible space with a circular atrium that acts as a central lung and focus, to ensure maximum interaction amongst researchers.  This ability to have both staff and students interact easily is a key element in the success of the design.  When built the scheme will achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ environmental rating using mixed mode, naturally ventilated, simple yet sophisticated energy concept for its ventilation. The materials used in the building are a pallet of low energy and maintenance elements including terracotta rain screen, aluminium, glass and steel, sympathetic to the adjoining buildings on all sides.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, the Director for the new centre at the University, said: “It’s an exciting vision of what promises to be a very important centre for not only the University but for the whole of the UK and beyond.”

Peter Dudley, Scott Tallon Walker’s Director of Science and Technology, commented: “Our concept for this building was informed very much by how our own architects work. We see the new centre at the University of Surrey as a place where some of the finest minds in mobile communications from around the world will be sharing their visionary ideas. Our team has watched and studied how creative groups share ideas in the workplace and our design will mean that people will have a strong sense of contact, visual and/or aural, with colleagues during the working day. This leads to better collegiality but more importantly to the sparking of creative ideas, spurring people on with fresh suggestions while seeing the progress being made by colleagues.  The Scott Tallon Walker practice is obviously delighted to have won such a prestigious competition but my colleagues working on the project are equally excited as they really want to see their ideas for this creative community in action.”

The research centre will accommodate both the university’s own researchers and those of its industry partners who will come and research at the university. Part of the overall proposal includes a test bed on campus, using lampposts as mobile signal base stations, that cover an area of four kilometres squared which will be used for demonstrations and proofs-of-concept.

Scott Tallon Walker Architects specialise in larger projects in the higher education, healthcare and sports areas. Last year the practice won the competition to design a new £250 million Proton Beam Therapy and Clinical unit for University College London Hospital which is currently at pre-planning stage, (in association with Edward Williams Architects).  The practice has previously designed the Vice Chancellors Residence and extended the Library for the University of Surrey. The firm has also recently been appointed as joint architects to design consolidated accommodation for the School of Biological Sciences on the former Science Library site at Lennoxvale at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. STW were also joint architects with Populous on the £260million re-development of the Aviva Stadium, (formerly Lansdowne Road) for the Irish Rugby Football Union in Dublin which was awarded the British Construction Industry Award for International Project in 2011.

Categories: Architecture | Competitions

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