As two of the city's best known landmarks, the Arkwright and Newton buildings have played an important role in shaping the educational, cultural and social life of Nottingham. They were built almost 80 years apart and represent two utterly different architectural solutions to the needs of higher education. It was never intended that they would work together, so it's only through looking at their history that it becomes apparent how innovative and progressive the University's regeneration project is for the city.
Built in 1877-81 with an elaborate Gothic design of gables, arches and pinnacles, Arkwright was originally home to University College Nottingham as well as the city library and a natural history museum. Described at the time as the, “finest pile of public buildings in Nottinghamshire”, it was once the learning place of celebrated author D. H. Lawrence, providing inspiration for Ursula's college career in The Rainbow. It was also the building where, just over 100 years ago, groundbreaking work by Professor Frederic Stanley Kipping led to the discovery of silicone polymers and spawned a multibillion-pound industry.
The neighbouring Newton building was added in 1956-8 as part of the expansion of what by then was the Nottingham and District Technical College. A magnificent example of mid-20th Century architecture, it is one of the tallest buildings in Nottingham and boasts a striking art-deco style. Officially opened by HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent in June 1958, it wins instant recognition today as one of the flagship buildings of Nottingham Trent University.
The project's challenge and stunning result
When thinking about the regeneration of these two historic landmarks, the challenge has been to create imaginative and sensitive solutions that respect the buildings' history while modernising the layout and facilities. The project result is the right balance between keeping the most remarkable original features of the buildings while providing the 21st Century facilities required by a forward-thinking university.