Ben Pimlott Building
Ben Pimlott Building is already a local landmark by virtue of its iconic scribble sculpture.
The new building, that opened its doors to students on January 10, 2005, contains Visual Arts studios, Goldsmiths Digital Studios, and the Centre for Cognition, Culture and Computation, a unique new research unit.
The building, has been designed as a seven-storey box with an industrial aesthetic to reflect the tough studio space within. Three sides of the box are clad in metal with punched windows for daylight and ventilation where required. The large north elevation of the building is entirely glazed to flood the building with natural daylight and to reveal the unique mix of studios, digital media and scientific research laboratories within.
A layer of metal surface relief breaks up the mass of the silver coloured metal cladding and casts shadows during the day. At night industrial light fittings scattered across the elevations, throw pools of light and shadow across the metal surfaces.
A two storey chunk of the box space has been removed at high level to leave a roof terrace for outdoor working and display. The roof terrace is wrapped in a nine-meter high steel “scribble” that forms the eye-catching signature to the building and is highly visible on the south London skyline.
The scribble was developed in 3D as part of an accurate CAD model from a series of repeated fabricated steel units. The sculpture is constructed from 229 separate pieces of steel, of which 131 were assembled on site.
On the south elevation, the external escape stair cascades down the façade with panels of the metal cladding system forming balustrade panels to the outer flights. The stair is formed from a prefabricated steel structure with cantilevering support trusses at landing levels ensuring that it is self-supporting.
The cladding to the elevations consists of two systems: floor to floor curtain wall glazing to the north elevation and solid metal cladding with openings for windows and louvers to the south, east and west elevations. Panels of surface relief break up the larger expanses of metal cladding. Created from the same material, they are clipped to the ridges of the standing seam cladding system.
The studios are naturally ventilated and benefit from the mass of the exposed concrete soffits and the generous floor to ceiling heights.
The spaces are lined in ply with exposed concrete soffits; a raised floor system uses inexpensive chipboard panels that can be exposed to paint, scuffing and other inevitable marks of student activity, then easily lifted and replaced. This reflects a demand for flexibility in Visual Arts environments at the heart of the brief for the building.
To the front of the building, a two storey, white, table-like structure forms the entrance canopy to the building. This composition anticipates the double height entrance foyer beyond, which forms the arrival and social meeting space, pointing to the new building. It also relieves the neutral plane of this elevation, providing a counterpoint to the relative austerity of the façade treatment.
The “Ben Pimlott Building” is named after project instigator, Professor Ben Pimlott. The political biographer and historian had been the Warden of Goldsmiths College since 1998 and died unexpectedly in April 2004.