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£46.5m University of Birmingham Development Complete

£46.5m University of Birmingham Development Complete
03 February 2021
 

A test track for a scaled hydrogen-powered train, industry-leading energy sources and agile working spaces are just some of the features of the newly-developed School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham.

Building work on the £46.5 million complex has been completed this month by Willmott Dixon. The 12,000 sqm facility spans five floors and features a double-height atrium. The development aims to not only bring together many of the institution’s engineering disciplines but also provide opportunities for successful collaboration between academia and the industry. 

Procured through the Constructing West Midlands framework, the School of Engineering puts industry at the heart of the University’s campus, alongside the £16.4M UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems. 

This development is the fifth major partnership Willmott Dixon has entered into with the University of Birmingham, having recently completed the Teaching and Learning Building, along with the Green Heart campus development. 

 

“One of our main aspirations for this development was to provide a highly energy-efficient building. Throughout the project, we implemented a sustainability strategy to ensure the facility would be built and operated in an energy-efficient way right from the outset, including the optimisation of Passivhaus design measures.”

–Nick Gibb

Deputy Managing Director for the Midlands, Wilmott Dixon

 

Agile and Collaborative Working

 

The facility’s design was curated specifically with agile and collaborative working between academics, researchers, students, and staff, in mind. The development offers open plan spaces and cellular facilities including a dedicated Student Support Hub, a new 179-capacity Design Centre, a 50-seat electronics and electrical focused projects space, 20 flexi-bays specifically allocated for staff and student interactions, three 50-seat seminar rooms and also features 160 drop-in study spaces throughout the building.  

The basement also houses a full-size set of railway points, the University’s pantograph test rig and a test track for the scaled hydrogen-powered train – further expanding the university’s commitment to the integration of academia and industry. 

Nick Gibb, Deputy Managing Director for the Midlands at Willmott Dixon, said: “We are delighted to have completed such a significant development, both regionally and within the sector – the facility is set to pioneer advancements within engineering and digital systems research.

“Despite completing the final stages of the project during the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams optimised industry-leading safety and social distancing measures, which meant we were able to remain on-site throughout the pandemic and ultimately deliver the project to the agreed timescales. 

 

University of Birmingham

Picture: a photograph of the exterior of the School of Engineering

 

Energy Efficiency

 

“One of our main aspirations for this development was to provide a highly energy-efficient building. Throughout the project, we implemented a sustainability strategy to ensure the facility would be built and operated in an energy-efficient way right from the outset, including the optimisation of Passivhaus design measures. 

“These efforts, combined with the adoption of our industry-leading Energy Synergy™ process has enabled us to predict that 45 per cent of the building’s energy consumption will come from unregulated sources, such IT equipment, lab equipment and external lighting. These sources are highly linked to occupant usage and can fluctuate throughout the building’s lifecycle.” 

 

Willmott Dixon staff

Picture: a photograph of some members of Willmott Dixon's staff, standing on a staircase inside the School of Engineering building

 

Showcasing Career Opportunities for Young People

 

As part of Willmott Dixon’s commitment to leaving a legacy in the local community, throughout the development the contractor ran its Enrichment Programme in partnership with the University of Birmingham School for local pupils. 

The programme was created to broaden the students’ understanding of career opportunities whilst giving them a chance to develop their character virtues. The contractor also facilitated 157 student visits to the site, hosted 71 work experience weeks with local people and enabled 202 weeks of ‘on-site’ apprenticeship training.

Picture: a photograph of the interior of the university building, showing coworking and meeting spaces

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 03 February 2021

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