University of Huddersfield Barbara Hepworth Building

The Barbara Hepworth Building (BHB) is the University of Huddersfield’s (UoH) new centre for the study of art, design and architecture. Delivered by Morgan Sindall (MS) and named after the West Yorkshire-born sculptor, the five story building includes cutting-edge design and construction studios, design laboratories and a daring 18m flying cantilever reaching out from the plinth of the building to the nearby canal.

A dedicated and determined project team are on course to deliver the building eight weeks ahead of programme and in budget; however they have had several environmental and design challenges to factor in.

An early issue relating to the groundworks required a substantial rethink. It became evident some of the initial piling designs would have meant bringing in a lot of materials onto the site, something MS were keen to avoid throughout the project to reduce disruption. The team went back to the drawing board and came up with an innovative solution that utilised materials that were already onsite, essentially re-engineering them to get a solution for the ground slabs.

The building is open plan and a number of different activities will take place in adjacent spaces, meaning the implementation of a cutting-edge acoustic strategy was essential. Separate rooms were designed to isolate noisy activities and the large open spaces incorporate acoustic absorption to combat reverberation time.

Meticulous attention to detail and a clear understanding of the client’s needs ensured the final structure and fabric of the building accommodated all of the specialist equipment requirements, including acoustics, IT infrastructure and lighting.