‘The Lab’ was commissioned alongside the work being undertaken on Oxford Brookes New Library and Teaching Building. Housed within the newly completed Abercrombie Building it showcases the new development, displaying material samples, audio-visual material and a physical model of the overall scheme. It forms part of the University’s ‘Space to Think’ campaign, aiming to engage students in the redevelopment of their University campuses.
Facing out into the new five-storey Atria space, the exhibition occupies one of the existing rooms of the original Abercrombie building. It was originally proposed as a temporary exhibition, to be replaced by teaching space; however, following the initial success and high demand of ‘the Lab’ since it opened to the public, there has been discussion around making it a permanent feature.
The exhibition aims to encourage students to familiarise themselves with the new building whilst it is not yet complete, and allows users an insight into what is to come. The forefront of the space acts as a test lab for furniture samples intended for the new building, enabling students and staff to feed-back their opinions and comments, which in turn encourages and inclusive approach to the Interior Design of the New Library and Teaching Building.
A feedback display and answer board was included as part of the brief in order to facilitate this, and has proved successful in helping the Oxford Brookes Communications team gain important feedback from students and staff.
The display of materials and fabrics encourages tactile interaction with the physical matter that forms each part of the new JHB building. These materials are presented on a steel credenza that replicates the weathered steel ribbon running through the JHB building, but at a more human scale. Bespoke light boxes are held within the ribbon, on which patterned glass samples are displayed and illuminated to show them in their best light.
The credenza culminates in a large, physical model of the new development, giving visitors a tangible notion of the building in context. Installed behind the display credenza sits an opaque glass wall. Spanning the length of the room it displays audio-visual content through the use of back-projection film on the glass and projectors concealed behind, resulting in a seamless display of moving images and information.
Once the New Library and Teaching building is complete it has been suggested that the space would be useful for events and conferences, whilst the credenza display could be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere in the university for displaying students’ work.