Expanded mesh cladding system inspired by Newcastle-born mathematician Louis Fry Richardson creates a stunning visual effect on the Frederick Douglass Centre at Newcastle Helix.

The Frederick Douglass Centre at Newcastle University is a £34 million flagship development forming part of the Newcastle Helix scheme (formerly known as Science Central). The building functions as a learning and teaching facility in honour of the US anti-slavery campaigner, who was accommodated nearby the Helix site.

The exterior of the ‘Learning Arc’ as described by the architects, Sheppard Robson, has a strong vertical expression formed of perforated panels – which allows for natural ventilation – and more solid elements of back-painted glass.  This forms a rhythm to the façade which follows the structure of the building’s concrete frame. The top level is lighter in form and is expressed in expanded aluminium mesh.

The auditorium uses a cladding system inspired by the Newcastle-born mathematician Louis Fry Richardson whose pioneering work defined modern methods of weather forecasting. Fry Richardson’s work, which subdivided the planet into hexagonal zones, has been expressed in expanded aluminium mesh on the external elevations of the auditorium. A pattern has been created by the changing the orientation of the mesh, varying the opacity of the material. 

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