The Diamond Building at The University of Sheffield

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The University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England, has opened a new landmark building called “the Diamond”. It is named after its distinctive anodised aluminium and glass facade, which draws inspiration from the detailing of the surrounding historic buildings and in particular the stone tracery that frames the windows of the adjacent church. The building's design also references “cellular automaton”, a model studied in the field of engineering and used by the University to describe how the microstructure of steel changes during processing.

The Diamond cost a staggering £81 million to build — the largest capital investment in teaching and learning ever undertaken by the University. In return, the University hopes that the building will help support its ambition of becoming the UK’s leading engineering university and doubling the size of the Faculty of Engineering by 2021.


The 19,500-square-meter facility designed by Twelve Architects and constructed by Balfour Beatty boasts of specialist engineering laboratories, lecture theatres, large scale flexible teaching spaces, workshops, a learning resource centre and integrated formal and informal study environments for up to 5,000 students. The Diamond will be the home for the University’s Engineering undergraduates.

“The ethos of the building is to support work across the full spectrum of engineering, from fundamental science to professional practice,” reads the description of the project on the architects’ website. “The design provides a public route at ground floor level. A central atrium at first floor enables people to view the ‘showcase’ engineering activities being undertaken and promotes collaboration and cross-disciplinary working in an environment fit for 21st century research and practice.”

“Within the naturally ventilated atrium, curved ‘pods’ house spaces for informal personal and group learning. Classrooms, laboratories and offices are arranged to the north and south of the atrium with full height glazing to maximise internal views to and from the teaching spaces which display the best of engineering education and research. Rooflights flood the interior with daylight and custom-designed glazed study tables within the first floor atrium allow the natural light to penetrate the ground and lower ground levels whilst creating acoustic separation.”

All photographs courtesy Twelve Architects.






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