"The internal spaces life the spirits. The restrained use of timber against white walls and the integration of natural and artificial lighting are both particularly effective. Professor Brian Scott-Quinn was clearly a truely committed client, committed to both good modern architecture and to his own sense of adventure."
RIBA Awards Jury Comment
The University of Reading approached the practice to design a teaching facility for the Zurich based International Securities and Markets Association (ISMA). The ISMA Centre, through its open and transparent interior, is a clear spatial interpretation of the client's wish that the building's occupants interact. The brief was for a highly distinctive modern building which would reflect the type of research and work being carried out.
The large areas of internal glass are intended to mimic those commonly found in City institutions where dealing floors are highly visible. Open plan offices around a double-height common space, and the avoidance of corridors, encourage people, ideas and information to mix and avoiding an institutional feel, an aim which the client expressed at the outset. The large glazed facades make best use of pleasant views to the north, and of the sunny terrace to the south. The first floor level is predominantly open plan, naturally lit from a linear roof light running the length of the building. Ground and first floors are linked by a glazed lift within the central common area. At the diagonally opposite corners the building the staircases are expressed in the external facade. The dominant expression of the external envelope is of the two accommodation blocks arranged either side of the transparent, glazed double-height common area.
The building defines a prominent corner to a major route into the campus. The curving road forms the site's west and north perimeters. The solid west wall follows and expresses this boundary and is drawn to a point at the building's south west corner, enclosing the paved terrace. The pitch of the roof mimics the gentle slope of the site.
"Mather...has used his talents to create an exterior where every curve and angle has been carefully considered. The double-height glazed entrance façade and sweeping overhang of the cantilevered roof provide an impressive welcome, but it is the intriguing details and the way the building can be read so clearly from outside that mark the building out."
Jessica Cargill Thompson
Civic Trust Award
Jessica Cargill Thompson - 15 May 98
Miriam Cadji - June 99
University of Reading