Ajman University Student Centre
Ajman, United Arab Emirates
Client : Ajman University
Area : 41,600 sf
Program : Library, Retail Services, Food Court, Health and Student Life Advisement, Meeting Rooms, Administrative and Support Spaces
Associated Architects : Al Gurg
On a mid-sized campus in the Persian Gulf, the Ajman University for Science and Technology Community Centre efficiently serves as a social and learning hub for a fully gender-segregated body of students and faculty while linking multiple existing structures and outdoor areas. The Centre joins two major edifices that dominate the campus to establish a new central core for socialization and amenities where the two halves of campus meet.
Across four storeys, the Centre comprises a food court, library, and departments for administration, registration, and finance, with the plan of each level separated into mirrored halves to serve male or female students. Its asymmetrical massing resembles the intersection of two large volumes—a rectangle merged with a slightly taller trapezoid—which creates a dynamic tension between the structure’s two extremities, yet presents them as a unified whole in recognition of both sides of the student body. In fact, the building’s two ends are of equal heights; rooftop mechanical at the centre of the building and a parapet around the perimeter of the western roofline visually extend the trapezoidal mass above the height of the structure.
This asymmetrical massing is a response not only to the buildings to the east and west—effectively connecting them and serving their functional needs—but to the campus as well. On the lowest level, facing a large plaza to the south, the façade recedes beneath the massing of the upper storeys, adhering to the movements of pedestrians across campus—especially to the west, where the trapezoidal mass projects forward to create a substantial overhang. To the east, an additional awning-like cantilever similarly shades the plaza from the sun, defining the main entry and supporting a rooftop patio with a view overlooking the campus.
The centre’s high-mass, poured-in-place concrete structure, paired with a high-performance wall enclosure, responds to local material availability and budget with a highly effective response to intense solar conditions. In stark contrast to the buildings to which it connects—imposing, highly symmetrical stone-coloured edificies—the Centre is fully glazed with projecting blue-glass fins for a clean and modern appearance that speaks to AUST’s founding vision “to be a cutting-edge university which employs state-of-the-art technology.”