Computer Centre, Merchiston Campus, Napier University, Edinburgh

The University wished to enhance its present computer teaching facilities with the provision of a new 24 hour-access 'computer centre' within its existing campus buildings at Merchiston. It centralises 500 workstations and provides support space for technicians and computer servers together with ancillary accommodation. The new centre is intrinsically linked to the existing university buildings which surround it (there are no elevations), although a separate entrance will however give both open access to students 24 hours a day and provide it with a separate visually identifiable presence.

The brief was very simple and yet a room of 500 terminals with no clear subdivision or defined circulation could have been a daunting prospect. We elected to immediately subdivide into a matrix of 5 x 4 bays defined laterally by five parallel barrel vaults and longitudinally by a stepped hillside of four terraces. A tartan grid of circulation weaves its way between, under valley gutters in one direction and vaults of light in the other. The whole is supported on clusters of columns and the entire composition is surrounded by light from hidden perimeter roof lights where there are also ramped access routes. The vaults themselves are lit from the sides by sunlight reflected upwards so that sunlight doesn't fall onto computer screens.

Placed centrally within the matrix is the main support desk, providing them with both a commanding overall view of the facility and also of the main entrances.

The project was completed at the end of 2001

Other Details

Architects Richard Murphy, Bill Black, James Mason
Project Manager Bovis/Lendlease
Engineers WS Atkins
M&E Engineers WS Atkins
Quantity Surveyor Faithful & Gould
Planning Supervisor Faithful & Gould
Contractor Ogilvie Construction, Stirling
Construction Cost £4.5m
Client Napier University

Awards

2002 Scottish Design Award
2003 RIBA Award

Press

27 August 2002 Scottish Design In Better Shape Than Ever The Herald
May / June 2002 University Challenge Prospect
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