Stockport , a town approximately ten kilometres southeast of Manchester, recently launched an ambitious urban renewal programme called “Future Stockport”. Alongside the renewal of the town centre, Stockport College of Technology organised its own renewal programme. Some of the old buildings on the centre of the campus were demolished and the site was completely restructured to cater to the needs of contemporary teaching. The college has several departments – design, fashion, engineering – featuring the latest technologies.
The Austin-Smith Lord agency took charge of both the blueprint for the campus and the two new studios at its entrance. The overall plan aims to create harmonious architecture and open up new paths and roads to facilitate circulation both on campus and to and from the town. Most of the activity here takes place in large buildings equipped with expensive hardware that has had a major impact on the overall project budget. To keep within the budget without cutting back on architectural quality, the architects worked closely with the building contractors and engineers to optimize structures and develop solutions for on-site pre-fabrication. The client wanted a solid-looking building. Austin- Smith Lord met this requirement by using raw materials: the studios needed to have abundant natural lighting so the facades are dominated by a repetition of slender ceiling to fl oor windows. The class rooms overlooking the studios are opaque and clad in dark grey zinc: a material that gives a strong expression to this new part of the campus and expresses the solidity and durability desired by the college directors.