Challenger Learning Centre

Grimshaw, Leicester, 1999


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The temporary Challenger Learning Centre 

Nathan Willock and Steve Ritchie     Download Original

  • The temporary Challenger Learning Centre    
  • The entrance to the Centre    
  • Reception area    
  • The temporary structure has an industrial aesthetic    
  • The building aimed to educate the public about space science    
  • Plan    
  • Cross section    
  • Elevation    
  • Isometric    
  • Structure working detail    

Temporary structure that will be moved to a permanent location as part of the National Space Science Centre, combining an exhibition venue, and an educational research centre

The Challenger Centre, sited in Victoria Park next to the University of Leicester campus, was opened in advance of the NSSC project because it was immediately available as a ready-made package of equipment.

A lightweight fabric enclosure for the centre had been the concept from the outset; demountable, transportable and allowing fast-track erection.

The white pvc-coated polyester fabric panels are stressed between a series of 13 demountable trusses to form a 14m clear span over the modular units. Galvanised cables and exposed bolted connectors give the building an industrial feel.

Twelve 12 x 3m prefabricated building units are linked together to form a 12 x 36m enclosure. The units have insulated timber stud walls, lined on the inside with plasterboard and on the outside with a textured plywood substrate.

Basic interior and exterior decoration, doors and frames, toilet cubicles and fittings were installed in the factory at Wickford. Suspended ceilings, lights and air-conditioning were fixed on site to ensure clean junctions.


  • Begun: May 1999
  • Completed: Oct 1999
  • Floor area: 432m2
  • Sectors: Education, Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £410,000
  • Procurement: JCT Intermediate Form of contract 98
  • Address: Victoria Park, Leicester, LE1 7RY, United Kingdom

Professional Team