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Estates and Facilities


Image showing exterior of Sutherland buildingIn early 2019, the Unit moved into Sutherland Building (a nineteenth-century grade II listed building, in the centre of Newcastle) after the completion of a bespoke extension hosting architecture studio, offices and community spaces. Designed by architects from Page\Park, the new home enables the development of collaborative research ideas and opportunities for networking in open plan spaces. The project won the RIBA North East Award 2019, was highly commended by the Scottish Design Awards in Architecture 2019 and was shortlisted for the Glasgow Institute of Architects Awards 2019. 


Northumbria Timelapse from Page\Park Architects on Vimeo.


3D printers and wood workshops 

Since 2014, the Unit has benefited from considerable investments in workshops and laboratories. To support design-led research, we have extended our machining and prototyping facilities through the addition of a Mazak 5-axis CNC milling machine and a range of 3D printers, forming machines and laser cutters; these amount to more than 30 individual tools available to all staff and students – a total investment of £970k, including the associated workshops. These investments have provided our researchers with access to cutting-edge equipment, fostered a high capacity for knowledge transfer and impact opportunities, and ensured that sought-after specialist skills are nurtured and developed across the Unit, from undergraduates through to PGRs and staff members. 


Image showing Mazak 5-axis CNC milling machine

Image showing researcher using Mazak 5-axis CNC milling machine








Image showing virtual reality headset

Virtual Reality and Visualisation (VRV) Suite

To assist the Digital Built Environment research group, we have improved the existing Virtual Reality and Visualisation (VRV) Suite, which supports BIM and 3D surface analysis research and interactive usage. The VRV Suite played a key role in the development of a Virtual NewcastleGateshead city model, now used in planning processes. Our 3D laser scanners and drones were used to create the model. 

Material Characterisation Laboratory 

Our research into innovative sustainable materials for the modern construction industry has been supported by the establishment of a new Material Characterisation Laboratory, which houses a new high-resolution scanning electron microscope and a new powder X-ray diffractometer (total investment £1.35M). Research on the development of new sustainable construction materials, led by Dr Giovanni Pesce makes extensive use of these facilities. Such projects, developed within the Construction Futures research group, also benefited from the investments made for redesigning and expanding the Concrete Laboratory. A new 3D concrete printer underpins collaborative research with researchers in other departments.

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