Interactive Tiers: Brighton College by OMA
Client: Brighton College
Architect: OMA, Ellen van Loon
Location: Eastern Rd, Brighton BN2 OAL (GB)
Brighton College, which was established in 1845, looks back on a venerable tradition; it now counts among Great Britain’s leading private schools. At the entrance to the campus, visitors first encounter imposing buildings in neo-Gothic style. The look becomes more modern farther onto the grounds. The addition by OMA stands on the lot of the old gymnasium, directly beside extensive sports fields.
In 2013, two separate, independent projects were announced for a design competition: Brighton College needed new gyms and laboratories. Later on the two functions were linked. Correspondingly, the new structure conceived by OMA features an unconventional combination of the two institutes: sports and the natural sciences.
The Façade Relates to its Surroundings
At first glance, the new building clearly stands apart from its neighbours in terms of appearance. Ellen van Loon, a partner at OMA, nonetheless emphasizes the structure’s relationship to the other buildings. Classic British row houses line the sides of the college grounds in a regular, repetitive rhythm. This repetition of form also appears in the façade of the institute building, albeit in offset aluminum framing. Moreover, openness was an important criterion for the design; therefore, large-scale glazing offers views of the outdoors.
A Communicative Spatial Program
The sports rooms are located on the lower levels; upstairs is home to the labs. The lobby has a diverse décor with two old VW buses that function as bars and other, colourfully accented furnishings. From here, a 25-m running track leads past the fitness rooms into the large gymnasium, which can be completely opened up onto the playing field.
Fields of view take centre stage throughout the building: for instance, a window in the fitness room overlooks the swimming pool below. The classrooms have high glazing facing the outdoors and the corridor, and many of the sports rooms are visible from the upper levels. The crowning glory is the view from the rooftop terrace: the campus lies at visitors’ feet, and the North Sea coast can be seen in the distance.