Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre


Client: Durham University

Location: Durham

Construction Value: £40m

The historic city of Durham is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its cathedral and castle, exerts a strong influence on the character of the university estate. The award-winning Teaching and Learning Centre is situated on the edge of the city centre, adjacent to a conservation area and within view of the World Heritage Site.

In its highly sensitive location, the three-storey state-of-the-art facility had to integrate successfully into the landscape, welcome students from around the globe and outside term-time host major academic conferences. Appointed by Galliford Try, OOBE developed the landscape concept from Stage 4 through to completion. The scheme was design entirely within BIM, to bring the benefits of efficient working and a model that could easily be interrogated by the project team. A key factor to the design was the existing woodland. Native and ornamental species were planted to enhance the landscape character, including a line of super semi-mature trees. Significant areas of mature planting, featuring shrubs and hedging around the entrance plaza, were introduced to enhance the natural setting, soften the new building and increase biodiversity.

Delivering a welcoming and sensitive landscape in sight of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The world-class status of Durham University is reflected in the use of high-quality and robust hard landscaping. A large plaza with permeable paving welcomes all. Its use of darker tones is sympathetic to the existing setting by picking up seasonal colour variations in the natural landscape. Integrated outdoor seating areas encourages students, employees, and visitors alike to linger for wellbeing and socialising.

The sensitive landscape design has extended and enhanced the woodland character and wraps around the building. Lawn terraces provide outdoor learning and relaxation space and a DDA compliant pedestrian route re-establishes the connection with St Mary’s College. The final 3D model and COBIE data can assist the University for further projects.

“This is an exciting project to be involved with, creating a cutting-edge new facility within the historic surroundings of Durham that will create a high-quality new centre for the University’s students to benefit from.

“From the outset, OOBE understood the requirements for this development and has delivered a landscape design which is both welcoming and sensitive to the University’s heritage. It enhances views of the Durham World Heritage Site and reflects the world-leading aspirations of the University.”

Matt Naylor, Senior Project Manager from Galliford Try

“The Centre for Teaching and Learning is a key part of our University Strategy, 2017-2027. It is the first new-build development to come forward under the Strategy, and this reflects the fact that enhancing our teaching and learning – our students’ education – is a key priority for us.

“Congratulations to the team for delivering this outstanding project. The new building and landscape will help to ensure that Durham University is world-leading in research, education and the wider student experience.”

Simon Watt, Senior Project Manager at Durham University

Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre has been awarded the Building Excellence Awards 2020 Regional Winner in the Best Public Service or Educational Building category.

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