Based on the site of the former Springfield Brewery in Wolverhampton, this award-winning project to create facilities for the new West Midlands Construction University Technical College involves the renovation of an existing Grade II listed building and the construction of a new building. The two buildings will be linked by a double-storey atrium which will also open up the façade of the listed building.
The state-of-the-art college, with capacity to accommodate up to 600 14-19 year olds, will provide design studios, civil engineering laboratories, a ‘construction park’, teaching and administration spaces, as well as a workshop, a design gallery, breakout spaces and a cybercafé. Designed to be a centre of excellence, the college will offer the most comprehensive construction education and training in the whole of Europe, teaching students the vital skills needed for a career in the construction industry.
Acting as civil and structural engineers on the project, Hydrock was responsible for the design of the superstructure and sub-structures of the buildings, as well as carrying out the site investigation and geotechnical investigations on this derelict brownfield site.
Our team faced a number of challenges on the project, including the fact that the new building was to be positioned over a well and the need to link the existing building with the new one.
Having carried out an assessment on the existing building which enabled us to determine which floors needed strengthening and which required replacing, we worked closely with the client to ensure these works were carried out in such a way as to limit the amount of temporary support the facades needed while the existing structure was replaced. We also worked closely with building control to determine the most efficient way of improving the whole structure in order to comply with current building regulation requirements on building collapse.
Weekly face-to-face meetings with the teachers, the education funding authority, the University of Wolverhampton and the client’s technical advisers have greatly facilitated our work. They have allowed teachers to explain what they needed from the space and the design team to present to the client how the design is evolving, gather any feedback, and engage with the client’s team to ensure that their aspirations are met.
With strong budgetary constraints on this project, our civil engineers used existing culverts to provide attenuation on the site, enabling the contractor to save both time and money.
Our proactive approach and the strong relationship we have fostered with the client and the project team have both been key factors in allowing this project to remain within budget and on schedule.
The project's achievements were recognised in autumn 2015 when it won the 'Education or Healthcare Structures Award' at the Midlands Regional Awards run by the Institute of Structural Engineers.
Currently operating from temporary premises in the city of Wolverhampton while work on the Springfield site is carried out, the West Midlands Construction University Technical College is set to open the doors to its new state-of-the-art facilities in autumn 2016.