Lincoln University

Location: Lincoln

Client: City of Lincoln Council

Sector: Education, Office / Commercial / Mixed Use

Cost: £9.5m

Status: Completed 2008


Cost Consultant: Thomton & Firkin

Structural Engineers: Jacobs UK

M&E: XC02 / Loren Butt Consultancies

Design Build Contractor: Kier Marriot


RIBA Award 2010

SCALA Award 2009

Civic Building of the Year (for Sustainability) EM RIBA 2009

Environmental Initiative Award EM RIBA 2009

LABC Chairs Award 2009

As part of the planning process for the expansion of Lincoln University, Lincoln City Council identified a parcel of land ideal for development as a business park. Just 10 minutes walk from the city centre and close to the main campus of the University, the Council was keen to promote the area as suitable for innovative, science-based companies, and the decision was made to construct a small flagship building providing quality designed, managed office and workshop space for appropriate start-up companies. Design ideas for the building — which was named Think Tank in recognition of the fact that the first armoured tanks had been built and tested here during the First World War — were invited from a limited number of companies, leading to Marks Barfield winning the commission in the autumn of 2008.

The basic brief for the building called for a mixture of individual offices and workshops, suitable for letting, supported by shared meeting rooms, general office facilities and a managed reception area. The site for the building was rectangular, but as there was an area of trees in one corner that both the client and design team were keen to retain, a triangular building was proposed, two storeys high and arranged around an open central courtyard similar to a college quadrangle. All the offices, 21 in total, were located on the first floor, arranged along the longer north and south facades with the shared areas located in the shorter west wing, directly over the reception area. The rest of the ground floor was given over to the main services, including lavatories, and nine workshops. These were arranged along the north facade, which adopted a saw-tooth profile in plan so that each workshop, as well as the office above, could benefit from full-height glazing facing true north, maximising daylight while avoiding solar gain.

Sustainability was a key concern and the building — which relies solely on natural ventilation — is fitted with a closed loop, ground source heat pump capable of providing up to 70 per cent of the building’s heating and cooling needs. Fixed timber shades, protect the west and south facades from solar gain and the biodiverse roof has been planted to resemble a Lincolnshire meadow. Discrete photovoltaic cells and solar panels provide extra energy and hot water. Iridescent rockwool panels that change colour depending on the incidence of light were chosen to clad the building and give it a unique appearance. Think Tank was completed in just 14 months at a cost of £7.1 million, and has since been recognised with two regional RIBA Awards for achievement and sustainability.

Sustainable and environmental features:

  • Air Tightness
  • Automated Lighting and Temperature Control
  • Building Energy Management Systems
  • Building Orientation and Form
  • Encourage Recycling
  • Energy Efficient Appliances
  • Forestry Stewardship Council Approved Timber
  • Geothermal / Ground Source Heat Pump
  • Green Roof
  • Highly Insulated Envelope
  • Indigenous Planting Scheme
  • Manual Control
  • Natural Ventilation
  • Secure Night Time Ventilation
  • Shading / Overhangs
  • Solar Hot Water Panels
  • Stack Effect
  • Sun Pipes
  • Thermal Mass
  • Water Attenuation
  • Water Saving Fixtures