At the same time, there is also a nod historically to the heritage of the area within which the building sits – a former industrial part of the city, near to the docks. The brightly coloured rectangular elements of the cladding are therefore reminiscent of the stacked containers that were once to be found in the area. But if there is a conceptual element to the detail of the cladding, the reason for making one side of the building so nearly closed while the other side is glazed and very open, is entirely logical. The southern side, with the pixellated cladding, contains studios for digital production and auditoria – activities where excluding natural light is good.

The very open northern side is used for activities that can benefit from light. And between the light zone and the dark zone, there is a ‘traffic zone’ containing all the circulation that allows interaction between students working on the eight different floors of the building. ‘It was a challenge being tall,’ said Kareoja. ‘Usually you think of such buildings horizontally. But it gives us an identity. We have elevators at either end, which can take people and equipment, and stairs to go from one floor to another.’

With the building occupied 24 hours a day, the ‘light zone’ also acts as an advertisement for the building, alerting those in surrounding buildings to the activity within, and helping integrate with its neighbours, many of which are university buildings.

Another kind of integration comes from the cladding, in what Kareoja describes as a ‘Zelig’ effect after the Woody Allen film in which he is a colourless man who assumes several identities. It is not quite accurate to describe the metal cladding as being in six colours – in fact it is in five, plus uncoloured galvanised metal. This uncoloured metal is used on the cladding of a nearby building, and Kareoja believes that his building therefore shows a relationship to that building, while also outshining it. ‘It means that some of the DNA is the same as for the other building,’ he said.

The colours are all standard colours off the shelf. This was the only option that Kareoja had, since he was presented with an extremely tight schedule. Given longer, he could have specified any colour he wanted, but in fact he was happy with the palette available. The cladding is a standard sinusoidal profile, applied in three bays, with a 30cm overlap between panels.

The pixellated effect is enhanced by the fact that it is almost impossible to see the building, sandwiched between neighbours, as a whole. But whether users and neighbours experience it as a beacon of light from its open side, or as an intriguing pixellated pattern on the ‘dark side’, this is a building that is definitely raising its own profile and that of the work that takes place within it.

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