15 January, 2008 – BDP Manchester wins contract to design seven new universities in Libya
Building on a decade of experience in university and college masteplanning in the UK and Ireland, BDP's Manchester office has won the commission to design seven new universities as part of a major programme of educational development by the ODAC (Organisation for the Development of Administrative Centres) an agency of the Libyan Government.
Around 60 staff are involved in the project, which has a construction value of £450m and is led by Manchester office chairman David Cash.
"We’re delighted to have won this major project, which shows how Libya is rapidly opening up to the rest of the world after years of isolation," says Mr Cash, who has visited the country 10 times in the last nine months.
"Libya is opening itself up not only to the West but also sees its future role as a business channel to Africa. Tripoli is full of westerners whenever I visit.
"The cultural shift includes education and we’re delighted that the inter-disciplinary expertise that we have in the Manchester office has been successful in securing this contract."
BDP has been commissioned on an inter-disciplinary basis including masterplanning, architecture, space planning, structural and environmental engineering, sustainability, acoustics, lighting and landscape design. Infrastructure engineering is by Scott Wilson and fire engineering by Tenos.
Two of the universities are located within coastal towns to the west of Tripoli and one in the mountainous area which lies 50 km to the south.
The other four complexes are located within the Sahara Desert 1,000 km south of Tripoli. These will serve neighbouring communities in Libya as well as the wider regions of sub-Saharan Africa, providing facilities for 30,000 students and staff.
The design ideas are shaped around the differing climatic factors of the localities, determining strong environmental and social groupings to the buildings and public spaces.
Created as ‘variations on a theme’ the designs build on the academic plans set within the overall programme, to create a commonality and efficiency of built and special elements while bringing individual identity through response to local settings, microclimate and culture.
Says Mr Cash: "The project is posing new challenges – for example, we’ve never designed buildings for this type of climate.
"The Awbari University is one of the Saharan locations and experiences mid 40s temperatures in summer, freezing weather in winter and just 1mm of rainfall. These conditions of course help determine our range of approaches.
"It’s a fascinating project and a great coup for the BDP Manchester office – it will keep the Libya team here busy until at least 2010."
Source: BDP press release