The XR Lab in the STEM Hangar at West Suffolk College is the most advanced augmented reality centre in the UK, predicted to lead the future of digital education.
Windsor Patania Architects has created within an existing hangar a 700m2 structure that inspires and challenges from the moment students see it. Central to that impact has been the use of Arnourcoat’s SMG high gloss polished plaster on all exterior facades- including a dramatic three-dimensional geometric feature wall.
The £2m design & build project, intended to re-shape vocational training in digital sciences as part of the College’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) specialist campus, was completed in just seven months. This was despite featuring numerous bespoke elements, and complex components- of which the feature wall was a significant part, with its combination of planes and angles.
Architect Giovanni Patania originally intended the wall to be finished with metal- stainless steel, aluminium or zinc but it proved impossible to create to the standard required within the budget. Armourcoat’s superior luxurious SMG polished plaster delivered a practical, viable alternative, that met all Regulatory requirements for indoor air quality, zero VOC, low embodied carbon, fire resistance an thermal movement.
SMG, with its rich, high gloss “lacquer” effect, could be accurately applied to create a seamless finish across the diverse facets of the entire XR Lab structure, building up the layers over the timber and plasterboard framework. In Armourcoat’s own dark grey colour palette, it reflects light to create a dark, reflective finish reminiscent of 2011: A Space Odyssey’s Monolith.
The brief was to achieve something that was unprecedented and unique, that inspired future generations but made students feel it was a piece of alien architecture. I don’t think anyone expected the end result to be so impressive.
Armourcoat was superb in its level of support, from samples to being on site to give technical guidance on the plaster’s application. SMG is instrumental in achieving an opulent, reflective, futuristic exterior that inspires students to interact with and participate in the XR Lab experience.