In spring 2011 work started on a £26m parallel project at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh and Scottish Borders Campus to develop new student villages. Both projects are due for completion in summer 2012.
Contractor Morgan Sindall is responsible for handling the Edinburgh Campus construction, whilst the Scottish Borders Campus is under contractor Miller Construction; both contractors having been awarded the turnkey contract following a competitive tendering exercise. Capita are the Contact Administrators and Engineers; RMJM is sub-contracted to Capita as architects.
Self-funded by Heriot-Watt University, the Scottish Borders Campus project is valued at £13m and the Edinburgh Campus project at £12M.
The project is the latest investment by the university to reinforce its commitment to the “student experience” and to ensure that the Heriot-Watt students have access to generous living space and facilities which are at the leading edge of market expectations.
Both of the new Edinburgh and Scottish Borders Campus residences developments will replace ageing provisions with modern, attractive and welcoming accommodation. Some of the existing residences, which were built in the early 1970s and are reaching the end of their useful life, will be demolished on completion of the new-build. Once completed, the new buildings will contain: multi-purpose rooms, conference facility, deluxe rooms, single study rooms, shared kitchens and lounges, 5 bedroom ‘cluster’ flats and study lounges.
Both projects are being developed on campus and the construction contracts include exterior landscaping. The Edinburgh site was previously a Greenfield site and the Borders site is where the existing residences are situated. This poses Health and Safety challenges in terms of the building process; the Boarders site involves constructing new-build around existing operational residences, which requires significant Health and Safety provision to safeguard existing users.
The Edinburgh Campus buildings, which will have 273 bed spaces, are being built on the west side of the University’s attractive, landscaped campus as a further expansion of the West Student Village. The buildings are planned as a contemporary re-interpretation of the traditional ‘university quad’ courtyard plan, surrounding an outdoor ‘social space’, designed to be used as an extension of the indoor space living space, Edinburgh weather permitting.
In Galashiels the new buildings will be developed in phases, following the recently completed major re-development of the academic facilities at the Scottish Borders Campus. The initial phase will provide 218 bed spaces, with additional 4-5 storey accommodation blocks, each containing 60 bed spaces to be considered and scheduled as later phases.
The University’s Principal, Professor Steve Chapman and Alison Harley, the Head of Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles and Design, were invited to cut the first piece of turf by Miller Construction’s Scottish Operations Director, Liam Hanlon.
Liam Hanlon, said: “We are delighted to be working with Heriot-Watt University. Miller Construction has a reputation for the delivery of first-class student residencies and I am confident that this new accommodation will further enhance the University’s offer for learners, and contribute to the overall experience of those who choose to stay and study at the Galashiels campus.
“We are pleased to have marked the commencement of works with the Principal and look forward to working with the Heriot-Watt team over the coming months.”
Traditional build and structure design will be used for both projects, and facing brick, curtain walling and aluminium profile roof will complete the exterior finish of the building. The buildings will achieve BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Environmental Performance ‘Excellent’ status and will be built under Considerate Constructors. Taplanes Ltd manufactured and supplied the en suite pods for the student bedrooms at Heriot Watt University. Subsequently the pre-fabricated bathrooms were delivered to site and craned directly into position.
Peter Kerr, Director of Estates, said of the buildings: “They are designed and produced to last forty or fifty years, utilising high quality materials and specifications selected for their durability and reduced whole life costs.
“The designs have been created in consultation with not only experts in architecture, construction and energy/environmental management, but also with the staff who will operate and maintain them and, crucially, with students.”
Having considerably improved its position to 29th out of 120 UK universities in the 2011 National Student Survey (NSS), up from 47th last year, Heriot-Watt University’s new student villages will support a promising future for the University.