When I was asked to photograph the new award winning James Chadwick Building, SCEAS, (School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science) at The University of Manchester by Halliday Meecham Architects I was delighted. Not only was it a celebrated project, winning a BREEAM Excellent rating for renewable ground sourced heat pump technology, I’ve a long and successful relationship with HMA over the years, including photographing their new office refurbishment. A wonderful team to work with and always a pleasure to be able to contribute.
The SCEAS Challenge
The challenge at the SCEAS, Chemical Engineering Large Scale Laboratory, was principally of scale and how to share the narrative of the extensive space and the design’s collaborative nature by using interesting and revealing viewpoints.
The three storey Cameron Rig for example, an undersea oil extraction analysis system a solid-liquid separation column that extends the entire height of the building required especially careful attention to capture the perspective. With all natural light blacked out, a total of ten lights were used to illuminate both below and above the grilled flooring to reveal its scale. Anything less simply wouldn’t have shown its full reach or told the complete story.
Colour as well as volume also plays an important role in the building. The concept being that students working through their studies are able to see what’s going on in the other laboratories and as they progress through their courses move to different parts of the building to work on different equipment.
Clearly such detailed shoot planning and execution takes both time to organise and complete. More than that it takes a degree of insight and experience to even know the possibilities. In other words – for photographic potential to be realised it has to be conceived in the first place.
Fortunately Halliday Meecham Architects know exactly who to turn to.
Work that says Tim Farnworth of Halliday Meecham Architects is, “Always vivid, always full of life and creatively composed,” Thank you Tim.