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The latest plans for the new student accommodation (click to see larger image)
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(click to see larger image)
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Internal News - 24 April 2007

University invests £50 million in improving the campus

At the start of 2007 the University embarked on its most ambitious estates programme for some time. If all goes according to plan, construction projects worth £50 million will be under contract by the spring, all part of a construction programme that will roll forward until early 2009. Following is an update of the projects on campus.

The biggest investment in the academic estate, the £17 million 4 West replacement project, should get the green light shortly following revisions to the original design. Construction work should start before the end of the summer.

Architect's drawing of the new 4 West

Investment in the estate covers all aspects of life on campus, including a substantial commitment to the expansion and improvement of residential accommodation on the Claverton campus. A £21 million project to build 355 new student bedrooms on the eastern side of the campus is now underway with the main contractor, HBG Construction, starting work in March.

This project, which aims to achieve a BREEAM Ecohomes ‘Excellent’ rating, is being built to a tight timescale to ensure that the new bedrooms are available for the student intake in October 2008. This is being achieved by the use of innovative construction techniques not used on the campus before, including extensive use of prefabricated concrete frames and panels, and modular bathroom pods. Environmental features will include solar hot water heating, and the use of thermal mass and window positioning to moderate temperature during the summer.

In addition to this major new building project, a second extensive phase of refurbishment of the Westwood residential accommodation will run through the summer of 2008. The Wolfson, Conygre and Brendon Court buildings will be fully refurbished, following the successful completion of the first phase of the project in the summer of 2007. Not only Westwood will benefit – the rolling programme of refurbishment at Eastwood will continue with a further £2 million investment in Eastwood Houses to be completed by September 2007.

Investment in academic buildings has not been overlooked either. Nearly £1 million is being spent on converting part of the Sports Training Village to house the bio-mechanical research activities of Sport & Exercise Science. It will mark the first significant step in bringing together recreational sport and health related research. Like many other projects, this work has to be completed by the beginning of the new academic year.

In addition, the University will complete a major investment in upgrading laboratory, workshop, office and tutorial space in the engineering buildings 2 East and 4 East this spring. This will allow Mechanical Engineering staff to transfer from building 3 West, where most of Level 4 will be refurbished to provide general teaching and research accommodation. This phase of investment has also seen significant improvement and extension to the laboratory space in the South Building cluster.

New and improved social facilities for staff and students are also a key part of this investment phase. Following on the recent refurbishment of Level 2 of the Library, work is now underway in 4 East and 5 West to modernise and update the former refectories to provide social space with IT connectivity. The 4 West project will also provide a number of additional social spaces as well as much needed general teaching rooms and academic research offices. This follows the recently completed improvements to the Wessex House and the Level 1 restaurants.

Future projects include a new centre for arts on the campus. A competition has been launched by the University in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects to identify a designer to work on the proposals. This project is intended to transform the facilities available to the Institute of Contemporary & Interdisciplinary Arts and to house them in one location next to the existing Arts Lecture Theatre.

Patrick Finch, Director of Estates, said “Although the University has made a considerable investment in the improvement of facilities at Claverton Down over the past six years, this current round of activity is probably the biggest individual phase yet undertaken.

“It is also distinguished by the University’s commitment to sustainable construction with an emphasis on the use of green technologies and sector leading energy performance. While staff and students will get very used to the sight of large numbers of construction workers on the campus over the coming months, it is hoped that everyone will see the benefit as projects are completed.”