The £2.4 million project was implemented to rework the site’s existing Weston Atrium and was completed in September 2012. The project comprised the refurbishment of the Weston Atrium, the remodelling of the Weston Auditorium Foyer, the installation of a mezzanine level, the introduction of a Students’ Union office and the installation of new furniture.
Fit-out and refurbishment specialists Pexhurst was the main contractor on the project and Moses Cameron Williams was the architect. Couch Perry & Wilkes LLP was the mechanical and electrical consultant, whilst the structural consultant was Aecom and Jam Tree was responsible for all of the furniture on the project.
Work began on reshaping the Weston Atrium in May 2012. The Weston Atrium is a large, four-storey area of the campus, used by students and staff as a gathering point between lectures. The atrium provides access to the Business School (Block M), Humanities Law and Education (Block R) and the Weston Auditorium. Now that work is complete on the project, the remodelling of the Weston Atrium improves upon the facility’s original design and allows the atrium to become the perfect location for large scale events and exhibitions.
University of Hertfordshire Assistant Director of Projects, Ian Grimes, said:
“We operate two main campuses and de Havilland is our newest campus. The Weston Atrium is located at the heart of the campus, so it’s a very important area of the whole campus.
“The Weston Atrium was originally designed as an outdoor space which linked different areas of the various buildings together. Work was carried out in order to improve and modernise this key area of the campus in order to transform it into a student and staff informal learning and social space.
“As the Atrium was previously an outdoor space we upgraded the existing fabric and enclosed the atrium so that it could be heated. We then reworked the space to create lots of informal social areas where both staff and students can spend time working or relaxing. The incorporation of furniture was also a very important aspect of the reconfiguration process and was critical to making the new space work.”
As the original flooring of the atrium comprised traditional floor slabs the flooring was removed and replaced with a concrete base with under floor heating. The walls of the building were then upgraded, a mezzanine ‘study deck’ level was installed and the entire area was extensively redecorated. Booth seating was added to the ground floor, whilst additional furniture was fitted to the mezzanine level to define the social spaces, and a new Student Union facility – complete with a reception and office – was installed.
Additional features of the new Atrium include built-in booth seating on the ground floor, Wi-Fi access and vending machines.
In addition to the work on the Atrium, the linked Weston Auditorium foyer also received a makeover complete with a new box office. The work included the integration of graphics, wireless connectivity, lighting and power and the remodelling of existing space.
Whilst work was undertaken to improve the usage of the Western Auditorium foyer it was important for the University to retain the size of the foyer so that it could still accommodate footfall when the campus is in full use.
Although there were a number of internal alterations at the de Havilland campus very little external work was conducted on the site, with only minor cosmetic works and the installation of signage taking place in order to complete the transformation.
“de Havilland campus is open 52 weeks a year and in addition to our student intake we also run a very successful conference business as well as a sports centre which is open to the public seven days a week.
Conducting the work from May through to September was a conscious decision by the University as it is our quietest period and the only time that we can feasibly conduct work of this nature. We needed to complete the work ahead of the new term and this was one of the main reasons why we chose to work with Pexhurst – a contractor that we have previously worked with.
“We have a good working relationship with Pexhurst and this has developed over the last three years. The contractor has previously worked with us on the refurbishment of the de Havilland R Block, which comprised the construction of new offices for our law school and this work completely transformed the building from an academic space into what is practically a fully operational law firm.”
“Logistically this was a very challenging project which required a great degree of planning. The Atrium is the heart of the campus and it affects the way that students and staff move around the site.
“Now that work is complete on the project the new atrium provides students with an area where they can grab a coffee or catch up with friends before they attend their next lecture. Students want social spaces where they can sit down with their laptops, tablets or their notes and this atrium allows them to do this perfectly.”