An innovative educational export.
The first British university to have a presence in Dubai, Heriot-Watt’s UAE hub has been around since 2005 – quickly outgrowing its Dubai International Academic City campus, far from the heart of the city. Its award-winning, state-of-the-art new site at Dubai Knowledge Park – the only UAE education sector project to achieve LEED Gold certification – capitalises on open-plan design concepts, moving away from cellular teaching. Focusing on laboratories, sound recording studios and workshops – covering energy, robotics, psychology, computer science, IT, VR, and electrical, civil and fluids engineering – we furnished study spaces with the latest technology. This, in turn, will equip nearly 4,000 students representing 105 nationalities with research-informed, industry-focused British education.
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We had an extremely specific vision for our new campus – it would be digitally enabled, address the education requirements of the future and create a learning environment that is collaborative.
The aspiration to achieve LEED Gold certification was only instructed by the client post completion of RIBA Stage 4a. Embracing this late challenge, we refined the MEP design, achieving reductions in water use and lighting power densities, as well as working closely with the contractor during their mobilisation period to maximise use of locally sourced materials.
We provided consistent guidance throughout design and construction; the only team to maintain the same personnel structure for the duration of the project. This paid dividends with regard to knowledge retention and risk management; we were able to advise Heriot-Watt staff new to the project the history behind each design-related decision , and keep the contractor on course throughout the construction period.
VR suites allow students to link in to live lectures taught from the Edinburgh and Malaysia campuses, increasing the variety available; a dance, fitness and yoga studio and dedicated wellbeing rooms promote mental and physical health; and students benefit from a recreation zone, shop, and extended bus routes to campus. This was achieved in conjunction with the local authority in order to meet LEED Gold accessibility requirements.
Collaborative lecture theatres feature shallow rake tiered and booth-style seating encouraging peer discussion, plus pod rooms for group sharing via interconnected PCs, while our exposed services solution amplifies the perceived heights of teaching rooms, helping with viewing angles.
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A particular challenge was in coordinating the drainage routes for a newly proposed centralised chemical neutralisation system to serve the wet laboratories