The project

The jury of the Brick Development Association (BDA) Awards 2012 had a hard time finding points of criticism in this project so perfectly elaborated in all creative details.

“The Yard” as a newly created, central meeting point of the Roehampton University campus won in the “Best Outdoor Space” category. The paved square became the generous centre of the British Roehampton University; a place of encounter, communication and recreation.

Client: University of Roehampton
Architect: Henley Halebrown Rorrison
Contractors: Exel Construction
Pavers used: Wienerberger’s Herne Dark Brindled Slimpave 210 x 48 x 70 mm
Paved area: 1,600m
Completion: 2012

For a long time, today’s “Yard” of Roehampton University was doomed to a shadowy existence: the area was previously full of storage buildings and sheds. A new master plan by architectural practice Henley Halebrown Rorrison should finally free this core site at the university in London from these utility buildings. “The project replaces an old trade yard and workshops at the heart of the campus with a new public space that links Froebel and Digby Stuart Colleges, which were once separated by a boundary wall“, the architects explain.

Unique design

When designing the newly created generous square, the architects decided to use brick in the form of clay pavers. The sole use of clay pavers helped to unify the old and the new, whilst simultaneously complying with the restrictive requirements of monument conservation. New structural openings have been made to open up views from the chapel and a cafe to the Yard. The historic boundary wall has been reduced in height and buttressed within the Yard to make it structurally sound. Additional openings with flat arches at the top continuing the course of the wall were introduced to link the historic Froebel garden and the courts.

Walls and footpaths: To the north a new covered walkway has been carved out of an existing building. The free-standing Flemish-bond walls, which also serve as benches, convey the impression of the paver’s solidity. The one-third stretcher bond brick skins are used as building envelopes.

The new brickwork was drawn over existing walls, which were exposed during demolition works. The Herne Dark Brindled paving is laid in a variety of bonds including one-third stretcher and herringbone bond. Benches are built into niches and copings are made of cast and etched reconstituted stone.

Playful dialogue of scale: Unusual properties of the used clay paver are its thinness and colour: during the firing process, the colour varies and turns purple, silver, red and brown. The water-struck clay paver with a correspondingly rough surface quality is thinner than standard formats. The distribution of the silver pavers was left to the bricklayer. In the large, uninterrupted brick-paved areas, these silver elements enliven the surface.

Unmistakable identity

The depth of jointing also varies: in structural walls it is recessed, for bench back-rests it is flush, whilst paving joints are tightly sanded or deliberately laid in a matrix of fine-grained gravel to promote the growth of vegetation. By using 12mm bedding joints, five courses of new brickwork correspond exactly with four courses of standard bricks of the existing walls, giving rise to a playful dialogue of scale. Lime forms part of the black brown mortar within to eliminate expansion joints.

These special, thin clay pavers offered greater scope for expression because of their non-standardised dimensions and their varied range of surface finishes. Though the appearance is ever changing – or exactly because of that - these fired brick surfaces give this space an unmistakable identity. “The Yard” thus creates a new intersection at the heart of the campus. It has become a place where people work and come together.

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

The Yard, Roehampton

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