Margaret Fell Lecture Theatre

The new 400-seat Margaret Fell lecture theatre for Lancaster University is centrally located along the main pedestrian route through the Bailrigg campus, known colloquially as the Spine. The project adjoins to the existing Faculty of Art and Social Sciences building (FASS), creating a much-needed large lecture theatre space to deal with the continuing growth of the university.




Lancaster University



The client was keen to deliver a flagship building on campus in terms of state-of-the-art teaching space as well as targeting low energy and sustainability. Initially, it was decided to target Passivhaus principles of high thermal performance, minimum thermal bridging and low airtightness values. The driver behind this was to minimise the outgoing energy costs of the university as part of their continuing strategy for a more sustainable campus.

The completed project is located on a tight site, located between several University buildings which dictated the form and massing of the lecture theatre and associated plant, whilst allowing enough social and circulation space to handle the increased foot traffic encouraged by the building.

In an effort to express the projects sustainability aspirations externally the majority of the building is clad in timber. The mixture of the dark stained timber cladding used in conjunction with a natural curved timber screen creates a strong, organic form which helps to lead people around the building. The completed project also provides a new double height atrium link which adds additional social and break-out space from the adjacent teaching spaces in the FASS building. The large lecture theatre space is adjoined by a large meeting room, control room and ancillary support spaces.

jmarchitects carried out several ‘working groups’ with the various university stakeholders through the design process to make sure that the project delivers the required teaching environment, as well as giving them a sense of ownership and involvement in their new facility.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

To continue and enhance the University’s high standards in architectural accommodation prevalent across the campus whilst addressing the constraints of the proposed site and high sustainability requirements set by the client and the fundamental teaching requirements of the end-users.

The Solution

A building which provides a considered response to a constrained site with sensitive approaches to both the choices of building material and colour. A sensitive approach to the connectivity of both the main pedestrian route through campus (the Spine) and the new building’s connectivity to an existing building façade were challenges set within the brief.

The Outcome

An iconic and inspirational building which demonstrated sensitivity to its surroundings, fulfilling the aspirations of the client team, end-user groups and a challenging budget. The new facility forms the largest facility of its type on campus. The external landscaping encourages easy circulation on what was predominantly a brownfield site.

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