The Curve Building, Teesside University, UK designed by architects Austin-Smith:Lord


The heart of Teesside University’s campus in Middlesbrough is defined by Nordic Royal golden copper alloy, enveloping the new Teaching and Conference Building – known as ‘The Curve’.

The Curve Building, Teesside University, UK Designed by architects Austin-Smith:Lord

The Curve forms part of Austin-Smith:Lord’s competition-winning design for a unique environment at the centre of the University. It includes an extensive public realm, innovative lighting, a living wall with giant LED screen and landscaping across the newly pedestrianized campus. This new ‘Campus Heart’ aims to rival any new university in the country or indeed Europe.

“Nordic Royal brings an additional warmth and texture … a material that will maintain its high-quality appearance with negligible maintenance”.

Iconic building

The new building’s teaching block and 200-seat auditorium are linked and expressed by a curved façade that wraps around the north, east and south elevations, embracing the western end of the ‘Campus Heart’. Expressing each of the building’s elements separately gives an opportunity for a bold and striking composition, especially as the auditorium is able to ‘float’ at first and second floor levels, allowing the ‘Campus Heart’ landscape treatment to flow under it and into the building. Where the teaching block cuts back at ground level, a triple height concourse is formed from fully glazed curtain walling.

Austin-Smith:Lord said: “The brief from Teesside University was bold. They wanted a striking building in a compelling setting, which would be both an exemplary environment for students and staff, and an iconic building.” The state-of-the-art, 1476m², four-storey building features social learning spaces, multi-purpose areas for reception, events and exhibitions spaces, general purpose teaching rooms, a large auditorium lecture theatre and a roof terrace.

Bold material

The façade materials have been influenced by considerations of both existing context and an ambition to create a landmark building with a strong and – possibly – unique identity. Austin-Smith:Lord added: “The form of the building is expressive and exciting and works to create a spatially successful place. The desire for identifiable, landmark buildings that are fresh, exciting and unique suggested we should be bold in our choice of materials.

“The form, functional requirements and construction of the ‘solid’ parts of the building suggested a type of metal cladding with horizontal seams highlighting the curvilinear plan form. We chose Nordic Royal golden copper alloy cladding that will easily form the curved wall surfaces and accommodate the shaped cut outs for windows. Nordic Royal brings an additional warmth and texture to the new ‘Campus Heart’ with a material that will maintain its high-quality appearance with negligible maintenance.”

Discover Nordic Copper

Nordic Royal is an innovative alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, giving a rich golden through-colour that is very stable. The surface retains its golden colour and simply loses some of its sheen as the oxide layer thickens with exposure to the atmosphere, resulting in a protective matt finish. It behaves differently to other Nordic Copper products over time and does not develop a blue or green patina. Other Nordic Copper alloys include Nordic Bronze and Nordic Brass – also available pre-weathered.

Nordic Copper surfaces include Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’, as well as Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper giving either light or dark brown oxidisation that otherwise takes time to develop in the environment. Nordic BlueNordic Green and Nordic Turquoise factory-applied patinas are also available – developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. As well as the solid blue or green patina colours, other intensities of patina flecks can be created revealing some of the dark oxidised background material giving a ‘living’ surface. A wide choice of Nordic Decor mechanically applied surface treatments is also available.

Photos: MHK Photography

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