AUB Photography

Photography Building

Arts University Bournemouth
Completed 2015

A square site between wings of an existing 1980‘s building, conceptually informed by photographic processes

The new Photography Extension building infills a square site between wings of an existing 1980’s building, where the existing technical darkroom and studio areas are located. The new four-storey building provides associated support spaces such as break-out, communal, social learning and general teaching spaces, lecture theatre and I.T. suites, as well as connecting to the existing building circulation routes at each floor level.

Conceptually, the design has been informed by photographic processes, the principle west-facing facade features an array of digitally printed glazed fins that act as an environmental filter to reflect, diffuse and moderate natural daylight into the building interior, utilising modern printing and imaging technology whilst referencing the early forms and glass plate negatives of early photographic procedures.

The building’s exterior refers to early cameras, taking the form of a black box with apertures forming roof lights, windows and ventilation louvres allowing controlled natural light and air through the atrium and circulation spaces providing low-energy environmental control.

Design Approach


RIBA Award, Regional South West, Shortlist


A new staircase is a feature of the design, a sculptural element made of folded steel, it serves for both primary circulation and emergency egress. Internal voids connecting between floors at key circulation points aid the orientation of building users, also allowing natural light and air movement as part of the environmental design, and provide excellent spaces for the display and exhibition of artwork.

Internal timber cladding and ceiling baffles provide acoustic control, which is important for the flexiblity of uses within the spaces, an aspect that has informed the furniture selection, which was also specified by Design Engine, to achieve a balance of aesthetic rigour, introducing colour, and enabling a variety of types of group and individual study spaces.

The Arts University Bournemouth is nationally and internationally recognised as a leading university offering high quality specialist education in art, design, media and performance. This project is an initial phase of a master plan by Design Engine for the expansion and development of the Arts University campus at Wallisdown, Poole.