Frederick Douglass Centre, Newcastle University

Complete 2019
Area UK England
Client Newcastle University
Architect Sheppard Robson Architects

The Frederick Douglass Centre at Newcastle University is a £34 million flagship development forming part of the Newcastle Helix scheme (formerly known as Science Central). The building functions as a teaching and learning facility in honour of the US anti-slavery campaigner, who was accommodated nearby the Helix site.

The modern learning facilities cater for up to 2,200 students across three floors including an auditorium and collaborative lecture theatre, plus a range of seminar rooms on upper floors.

The sweeping curve has been designed to visually connect two public spaces that are adjacent to the project and sit within the Newcastle Helix masterplan. This curve is formed of a ‘Learning Arc’ that is positioned around the triangular form of a flexible auditorium with the capacity to hold 750 people.

The auditorium divides into 500 and 250 seat theatres by deployment of two back-to-back moveable walls. The walls and surrounding constructions were carefully detailed to maximise the achievable sound insulation.

Directly above the arc sits office accommodation for the University’s Business School, exhibition space, a café and spacious social learning spaces to address the university’s mission to deliver the best possible learning and teaching experience for students and staff alike.

Throughout the building, the interior design ensured that acoustic finishes were integrated and coordinated with the lighting design.