Westwood Teaching Centre

The Westwood Teaching Centre is a training facility for undergraduate and postgraduate teachers, located on the University of Warwick Westwood Campus. This provides an exemplary school-like environment in which to undertake practical teaching, at both primary and secondary school levels.

The project replaces the existing teaching centre, demolished under the contract, and integrates a refurbished lecture theatre. The orientation is predominately North / South, and provided the opportunity to create external congregation space for students on the Southern approach.

The brief called for flexible classrooms to teach maths, English, art, biology and chemistry, with associated prep rooms. The existing raked 125-seat lecture theatre has been upgraded and incorporated into the design as a shared function for the teaching centre and the general campus, providing full DDA compliance.

The design creates a new building to balance the retained lecture theatre, and visually links the two elements with an over sailing gull-wing roof structure. This roof ‘floats’ above the new accommodation and shared entrance, providing sun shading to South facing windows on the first floor. Internally, a compact atrium space connects the new teaching areas, with a transparent lift enclosure providing a focal element. Natural light floods this atrium via a clerestory strip window, and a roof-light formed within the depth of the timber roof panels.

A low-energy natural ventilation system utilises cross venting of classrooms via controlled window grilles. These draw outside air across radiators as required during daytime, then out into the atrium and exhausted via stack effect through opening roof-lights. The building is formed of a thermally massive construction, with high levels of insulation around the perimeter, using night cooling to create a thermal sink.

A rapid construction programme was essential to fit with the academic timetable. Working with this requirement, a number of pre-finished components were specified, including pre-cast concrete columns and floors, and a pre-fabricated stressed diaphragm timber roof with pre-finished birch plywood soffits.


Client: University of Warwick

Architect: John Miller + Partners


  • Project Manager: University of Warwick, Estates Office
  • Structural Engineer: Postawa de Hoog
  • Services Engineer: Fulcrum Consulting
  • Cost Consultant: Beechcroft

Paul Riddle

Status: Completed 2008