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Oculus Building, University of Warwick

Project value: £14 million

Sector: HEFE

Client satisfaction: 9/10

Local spend within 20 miles: 62%

Local labour within 20 miles: 49%

Waste diverted from landfill: 99%

Our new teaching and learning building, which has been co-designed with our students and staff, will further enhance the learning and teaching experience through its innovative design and capabilities."

Christina Hughes

Pro-Vice Cllr | The University of Warwick

Oculus Building, University of Warwick

The Oculus Building is the University of Warwick's first dedicated teaching space with bookable facilities available to all faculties.


The development was borne out of research by the University’s Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL), who then worked alongside the architect to develop the strategic brief for the project. This served to develop an inspiring, multi-faculty space that enables greater knowledge sharing and socialising between students from across the full range of academic subjects, enhancing their overall experience and promoting forward thinking approaches to educational innovation.

Teaching spaces are located in two wings, supporting a dramatic arched timber roof, beneath which the forms of the two lecture theatres are placed. Generous circulation spaces flow around these forms and create enclaves of space for social learning, while the inclusion of a café further supports use of the building by students beyond formal teaching sessions.

Students now benefit from a 500 seat lecture theatre, largest at the university, along with another 250 seat theatre. Oculus also provides 14 teaching spaces, social learning and networking areas, a café and outdoor terraces.

The ‘living’ Oculus Building reflects the green surroundings. It achieves its natural feel through the use of materials such as terracotta and sandstone cladding and terrazzo tiles. It also has abundant use of glulam timber to the roof – making it instantly recognisable and improving sustainability by reducing embodied carbon.

Due to the team’s dedicated approach the building achieved exemplary environmental credentials, achieving an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating – scoring the building on a wide range of sustainability measures including health & wellbeing and use of sustainable materials - and an A-Rated Energy Performance Certificate.

The Oculus Building was constructed at the heart of the University campus, therefore considerate logistics and minimising the impact on University life was critical. The University’s project team highlighted Willmott Dixon’s communicative approach to all affected Faculties and Departments as a key factor in achieving minimal disruption.

Two quite different roofing systems are used at the Oculus. A flat precast plank deck provides thermal mass for the naturally ventilated teaching wings and creates a robust deck for mounting photovoltaic arrays and plant behind a high parapet. An inverted flat roof covering was specified in line with university standard requirements for long-life coverings.

Spanning 34m between these two wings is the showpiece vaulted roof with an exposed timber structure and clean-lined aluminium standing-seam covering. The span length presented a challenge with the potential weight of substantial rooflights, overcome with a lightweight engineered polymer ‘pillow’ (ETFE) solution at 1% the weight of glass.

The flagship Teaching and Learning Building at the University of Warwick includes two large, state-of-the-art lecture theatres and 14 first class flexible teaching spaces. Along with the latest technology to help with teaching, the building also features a state-of- the-art, four-screen video wall in the central atrium.

This the first building on campus dedicated completely to teaching and learning in all disciplines, with no one department or service owning the building.

One of the lecture theatres will be the largest on campus with 500 seats, and boasts a spectacular glass and timber roof with a huge range of charging point facilities for laptops and other devices. Of the four teaching rooms on the ground floor, three open out into the freshly landscaped area outside the building, providing a unique experience for those studying.


Work experience placements


Client satisfaction


Waste diverted from landfill

In collaboration with:

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