A cellular pattern of diamond-shaped sections wrap around this university building in Sheffield, England. The diamonds don't just make for an interesting visual, but they are varied in size in order to control solar gain. The building is inspired by the stone tracery around the windows of a neighboring church, and it was designed by London studio Twelve Architects while they were working at RMJM. They later completed the delivery of the construction in collaboration with infrastructure specialist Balfour Beatty.
The Diamond building, named to reference its distinctive facade, is a 19,500-square-meter facility used by engineering undergraduates. It comprises labs, lecture theaters, workshops and study areas which can accommodate up to 5,000 students. Ground floor entrances lead to the central atrium space that also functions as a public route throughout the building. Integrated seating takes shape of curved pods arranged around the atrium and can be used for group learning. Visual connections between the atrium space and the laboratories is achieved by introducing full-height glazing lining the north and south edges of the public area.
The most striking element of the building – its cellular facade – is made of paneling formed from anodized aluminum sections installed over glass cladding. In places where more natural light is required, the pattern expands, while becoming gradually smaller on the south, east and west side of the facade. Besides creating a visual connection with traditional architecture, the facade also references the look of a cellular automaton – a model engineers study and use to explain how the microstructure of steel changes as it is processed – consisting of regular grids of cells.