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The campus of the future

Due to open in September, a £50m upgrade to the University of West London Ealing site, is already improving the student experience

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | May 19, 2015 | Estates

As competition for students grows and universities compete to demonstrate the value they can offer, the facilities on campus continue to be a key differentiator. It’s a trend that has led to significant investment at campuses up and down the country, including a £50m strategic plan dubbed ‘Future Campus’ at the University of West LondonDesigned by architects Bond Bryan, Future Campus involves a complete upgrade to the University’s Ealing site, including refurbishment of the existing facilities and construction of a new ‘Heart Space’.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of West London, Professor Peter John, said: “The Future Campus project is part of our vision to continually improve students’ learning and their social experience. We have worked closely with the Students’ Union and student representatives throughout the process to ensure that the student experience is at the heart of the project.” 

Improved infrastructure

A significant driver for the improvements being delivered in Ealing by the Future Campus project is the need to increase the power supply on campus. At the same time, the changes to the mechanical and electrical (M&E) installation are also clearly focused on reducing the University’s carbon emissions and operational costs.

Building services specialist LJJ is responsible for delivering the scheme and the company upgraded the low voltage infrastructure during an enabling works project in 2013, increasing the power capacity for the campus from 400 amps to 600 amps with the installation of a new transformer and low voltage (LV) section board.

Improvements to the mechanical services have also been anchored by a major infrastructure project, with the provision of a new CHP (combined heat and power) plant in the recently refurbished energy centre that serves the entire campus. With a 30kW capacity, the new CHP will supplement the existing boilers, providing an energy-efficient solution for the new heating system, which includes new pipework running from the energy centre to both the refurbished and new build areas.

Across the campus, LJJ will also network the new M&E installation to the existing BMS (Building Management System) to maximise energy efficiency, and CO2 sensors have been installed to control ventilation systems based on occupancy levels to combine safety with energy efficiency. 

Core facilities

The main entrance to the campus is via the reception on St Mary’s Road and this leads through to the ‘Teaching Centre’, where LJJ has installed new distribution boards and a completely new infrastructure for the LV distribution, along with new fire and security systems, low energy lighting for the teaching areas and LED lighting for the common areas.

The five-storey Teaching Centre includes both general teaching spaces and specialist fit out for music, Mac labs and textiles along with a social hub area known as ‘The Street’ where students can plug in mobile devices and use the Wi-Fi network that forms part of the data installation.

The varied teaching requirements in this area mean varied requirements for the mechanical installation, with some areas such as the textile rooms where there are knitting machines, the dance studios and the IT suites seeing the installation of new ventilation systems with heat recovery to aid energy efficiency.

The Hospitality Block beyond the Teaching Centre also involves specialist provision in the M&E installation. Located here are a combination of training kitchens, labs, a restaurant with televisions that provide live footage of students cooking, offices and classrooms.

Heart space

Between the existing A and B teaching blocks, the Future Campus masterplan includes a new library, which is heated and cooled via a central air handling unit installed by LJJ on the roof and linked to the central BMS system. Block A and Block B each have dedicated air handling units linked to the BMS and installed in the existing ground floor plant room. LJJ has also installed a number of building-specific requirements, including a standalone extract ventilation system for the concrete testing lab in Block A and a dry riser fire system in Block B to address its limited access for fire crews.

One of the key improvements delivered as part of the Future Campus scheme is the new Heart Space at the Ealing Campus, which connects the Teaching Centre, Hospitality Block and Blocks A and B, and to the North Block via a link corridor exhibition gallery.

Completed in two phases, the Heart Space includes a four-storey atrium with a student restaurant and commercial kitchen which is separated from a two-storey performance space by a curved oak feature wall, inset with LED lighting. LJJ has installed all small power, fire and security systems in the Heart Space and containment for the data and A/V systems, along with a complex lighting installation that combines high levels of natural light from the atrium roof with specialist lighting for the performance space including LED track lighting and performance spots.

A new build ground floor to Block A has also been constructed as part of the Heart Space project, creating offices and a new plant room in the former undercroft and maximising the useable space on the campus’ existing footprint.

Time critical

The whole Future Campus project will be completed in time for the new student intake in September 2015 following a challenging 19-month programme. Many of the buildings have already been completed, however, and are beginning to impact positively on the quality of the student experience at the University of West London.

Steven Harnett operations manager at main contractor, Willmott Dixon said: “The upgraded facilities have been delivered within a very tight programme which has only been made possible by our delivery partners’ close co-operation and collaborative working with the client to achieve the University’s requirements.

“Since the beginning of the scheme, LJJ has proved that the company has the meticulous planning abilities and ‘can-do’ approach to problem solving required for a scheme of this size. The University of West London campus now offers fantastic facilities, providing an excellent platform for attracting future students.”

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