Cube Learning & Living

The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology enrolled its first undergraduates in September 2017 to inspire a new generation of engineers who are ‘work-ready’. Recently completed new accommodation for them is in neat CLT pods designed by WilkinsonEyre.

In March 2016 the Minister of State for Universities, Science and Research and Innovation, invited inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson to take advantage of the Higher Education Research Bill to set up an engineering programme. WilkinsonEyre has been collaborating with Dyson on their Malmesbury campus for over 20 years, having originally designed the new Headquarters for Dyson there in 1992.

The Dyson Institute for Engineering and Technology is a new model for apprentice-based learning that integrates a higher education campus with commercial industry, research and development. With the ambition to become the best engineering university in the world, its mission is to develop the engineering leaders of the future.

Dyson’s brief was to create accommodation that would draw together fresh ideas visually, structurally and in the use of materials. The design team explored a range of materials and modular construction options, eventually settling on a structure from cross laminated timber (CLT) panels. 

The 67 units are 4m x 8m and are stacked up to three pods high. The units are arranged and angled in the campus landscape to provide every student with high-quality accommodation complete with a scenic view. The project establishes a new typology in student accommodation while breaking new ground in the design and engineering of modular and prefabricated construction. The CLT accommodation pods are wrapped in a layer of super insulation and clad in anodised aluminium. Each pod has a triple-glazed face, with a dark grey Accoya frame, painted dark grey to offset the pods’ metal casing. Internally, the CLT structure has been left exposed to create warming and natural living environments and to showcase the strength of the material’s natural properties.

The offsite construction process included the installation of fitted furniture and storage, before transportation of the pods from Scotland to Wiltshire to be craned into
position. Great care was exercised to ensure students feel a part of the wider Dyson community and are immersed in a positive and productive living environment. The pods have large tripled glazed windows and each pod has its own front door for privacy.

The modular CLT pods were chosen to respond to the challenging site that included a raised embankment. “WilkinsonEyre wanted to demonstrate the beauty of modular construction when designed and delivered to the highest quality,” says Yasmin Al-Ani Spence, WilkinsonEyre Director. “This led the design team to explore bespoke
construction methods including the design and build of cantilevered pods and providing appealing and practical access to pods at differing heights. Our latest project for Dyson has created unique student residencies with identity.”

Each pod has been designed with natural ventilation while benefitting from the excellent thermal mass performance of the CLT structure. Each pod is fitted with a wide, open window creating expansive views across the campus. To create the feel of a student village each pod has its own front door. The dynamic arrangement of the pods
has created a series of collective social spaces for the students to enjoy both internally and externally.

Jasper Hasell, Global Estates Director at Dyson said: “The latest addition to our Malmesbury Campus, Dyson Village, is an innovative new typology for high quality student accommodation and expands the existing campus thoughtfully combining work, sports and social for employees as well as place of education and a home to our undergraduate engineers.”

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