September 15, 2020
The University of Gloucestershire needed to relocate their business school from their Cheltenham Campus to the Oxstalls Campus in Gloucester, but faced environmental and planning challenges with a time critical factor of completion by September 2018. The site was a monumental conservation area, providing challenges in the ground – the site of Roman ruins which needed to remain intact. All challenges were overcome, with early engagement with the architect, and a robust communications strategy across the whole project team.
This was Vinci’s first student accommodation in timber frame. The client saw timber frame as a solution that would deliver the robustness required by student accommodation whilst offering the lightweight structure they needed, which complemented and respected the historical importance of the listed buildings in the area. Timber frame foundations are lightweight enough to ensure preservation of the former Roman settlement would remain undisturbed during the build whilst being robust enough to fulfil the build criteria. The structural design solution was engineered specifically to reduce load bearing points, avoid critical ground areas and improve on overall building performance through ‘Superdry’ timber. The student accommodation in Gloucester was a huge win for the developer as the collaboration between Vinci Construction and Stewart Milne Timber Systems worked up a design that could operate in the conservation area, incorporating the flexibility needed to address the challenges of this build. These solutions met the environmental, timing and quality challenges posed by this site, ensuring energy efficiency, increased air tightness, reduced acoustics, reduced energy consumption and completed build in only 24 weeks. The density of the buildings and access to site meant a key communications and operations strategy was implemented by all parties from the outset.
The site was a huge success due to:
- Speed of build – imperative as students needed to take occupation within a year. 2 blocks were built at once.
- Lightweight structure for preservation of Roman Settlement – foundations were engineered to meet this demand.
- The Blocks were designed incorporating progressive collapse with floor cassettes designed to ‘triple span’ over loadbearing walls.
- Limited ground disruption – through hard standing for the Mantis Static HDT 80 crane.
- Superdry Timber (Ultra-Joist) was used within horizontal make-up of the structure.
- Achieved the highest score on record for Health & Safety audit.
- Adopted a hybrid Pod and Panel approach to increase on-site productivity.