The "Yard" of the University of Roehampton acts as an open space which connects the historic and contemporary sections of the university, paved with Herne Dark Brindled clay pavers.
For a long time, the “Yard” of the University of Roehampton was doomed to a shadowy existence: the area was previously full of storage buildings and sheds. A new master plan by architectural practice Henley Halebrown Rorrison finally freed this core site at the university in London from these utility buildings.
When designing the newly created generous square, the architects decided to use brick in the form of clay pavers. The sole use of clay pavers helped to unify the old and the new, whilst simultaneously complying with the restrictive requirements of monument conservation. New structural openings have been made to open up views from the chapel and a cafe to the Yard. The historic boundary wall has been reduced in height and buttressed within the Yard to make it structurally sound. Additional openings with flat arches at the top continuing the course of the wall were introduced to link the historic Froebel garden and the courts.
The new brickwork was drawn over existing walls, which were exposed during demolition works. The Herne Dark Brindled paving was laid in a variety of bonds including one-third stretcher and herringbone bond. Benches were built into niches and copings were made of cast and etched reconstituted stone.
The design properties of this waterstruck clay paver are its slim format, rough surface quality and colour. During the firing process, the colour varies and turns purple, silver, red and brown.. The distribution of the silver pavers was left to the bricklayer. In the large, uninterrupted brick-paved areas, these silver elements enliven the surface.
The depth of jointing also varies: in structural walls it is recessed, for bench backrests it is flush, whilst paving joints are tightly sanded or deliberately laid in a matrix of fine-grained gravel to promote the growth of vegetation. By using 12mm bedding joints, five courses of new brickwork correspond exactly with four courses of standard bricks of the existing walls, giving rise to a playful dialogue of scale. Lime forms part of the black brown mortar within to eliminate expansion joints.
These special, thin clay pavers offered greater scope for expression because of their non-standardised dimensions and their varied range of surface finishes. Though the appearance is ever changing – or exactly because of that - these fired brick surfaces give this space an unmistakable identity. “The Yard” thus creates a new intersection at the heart of the campus. It has become a place where people work and come together.
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