The Diamond building, at Sheffield University, houses specialist laboratories, lecture theatres and study areas. ; The Diamond building, at Sheffield University, houses specialist laboratories, lecture theatres and study areas. ;

The Diamond, Sheffield

An educational building that provides lessons in sustainability

Sheffield University’s brief for its new engineering building, The Diamond, focused on providing high-quality teaching environments with flexible and adaptable spaces. Playing a full multidisciplinary role, Arup led the project from start to finish. We worked with the contractor’s civil and structural teams to balance programme and cost, delivering this world-class facility on time and on budget.

At The Diamond, engineering is on show. Lecture theatres and laboratories are positioned so passers-by can see research and teaching in action.

Studying sustainability

The building allows students to see for themselves how it consumes energy. Using workstations within the building or tablets, they can access data from sensors linked to a building management system. The system also enables the university to improve the building’s operational efficiency in the longer term. This will help the university achieve its challenging target of reducing its absolute carbon emissions by 43% by 2020, relative to 2005, while accommodating rapid growth in student numbers.

Project Summary

£81m new undergraduate engineering facility

57temperature sensors

Natural ventilation design

Buildings physics analysis helped to shape an innovative natural ventilation strategy for a complex atrium space that is central to the scheme. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was used to assess and help design the natural ventilation strategy for the main atrium for the Diamond. Several opening configurations were tested using fully thermal CFD analysis with tracers to track air quality. The final scheme utilised façade and roof level openings to provide ventilation and fresh air throughout the year.

The completed atrium has an extensive network of sensors recording temperature, humidity and CO2. These are being used by the university as a ‘living lab’ to understand the environmental performance of the space.

The facade draws inspiration from the detail of the surrounding buildings. The distinctive shaping references 'cellular automaton' a term used by the University to describe how the structure of steel changes during processing.

A coordinated approach

The building’s basement was key to the aspiration of creating as much first-class teaching accommodation as possible within the planning limits on height. Careful planning of basement works minimised the risk of damage to the music school's Victorian building next to the site, enabling it to remain open during construction.

Arup has worked tirelessly to bring forward what I believe will be both a fantastic addition to the University estate and Higher Education as a whole. The team have interpreted our vision and taken the final scheme so much further than we had hoped, with a truly world class facility to compliment the excellence of the University’s academic endeavour. The Diamond is the single largest academic project the University has undertaken and is a truly unique and inspiring facility. ” Keith Lilley Director, The University of Sheffield