One of the most modern university archaeology buildings anywhere in the world was opened in the School of Humanities at the University of Southampton by Will Champion of the rock band Coldplay, whose father Tim is a professor in the University's Archaeology department.
The £2.8 million building at the University's Avenue campus, located 1/2 mile south of the Highfield campus, incorporates extensive teaching laboratories; specialist bone, stone, skeleton and ceramic labs for analysis of archaeological finds, and seminar and research rooms, including the Digital Archaeology Laboratory and the John Wymer Palaeolithic Laboratory. The building also provides accommodation for the UK Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, a government funded support service for teaching and learning in this subject area, hosted by Modern Languages.
The superstructure of the building is steel framed; floors are pre-cast planks with exposed soffits; walls are painted blockwork; interior finishes are minimal. The external finishes consist of zinc cladding, insulated render and brickwork using a palette which draws from the materials of the neighbouring buildings. The building is for most parts naturally ventilated and has underfloor heating within the atrium entrance. There is supplemental ventilation and cooling in the main teaching spaces and computer room, and simple 'punka walla' fans maintain airflow and comfort in the main laboratory.
A distinctive feature of the building is the display of archaeologically inspired artworks. The glass entrance atrium is home to a 2.5 metre high sandstone megalith sculpture by the British artist Gary Breeze. It bears the Latin inscription 'Hoc pro spiritu levando statui' which means 'I set up this stone for the lightening of the spirit'. Art has also been incorporated into the building itself in the form of an eight metre high panel on an external side wall consisting of dozens of flint tools knapped by archaeologists from the department.