The 2017 Education Report

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It has long been recognised by educationalists that passively receiving knowledge does not create learning in the same way that actively researching and working together does.

The recently introduced Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) focuses university attention on teaching quality, which the government whitepaper defines as ‘…teaching practices which provide an appropriate level of contact, stimulation and challenge, encourage student effort and engagement, and which are effective in developing the knowledge, skills, attributes and work readiness for students.’

As these new standards can’t be achieved in traditional classrooms or lecture theatres, there has been a massive drive on campuses right across the UK to transform rooms and buildings to enable small group active learning, so that the highest levels of both student satisfaction and the teaching quality that the TEF assesses are attained.

Transforming campuses with better learning spaces where students can excel is not only creating income streams, but is also providing opportunities for designers and architects to truly innovate and set themselves apart.

So what’s this got to do with you? We think the focus on learning and collaboration is a vital part in any successful corporate business and whilst there are more and more great corporate examples, we feel the business world can learn a lot from education. We posed the question: Is the education sector ahead of the corporate workplace revolution? (page 32) to give you a taste of what the end user thinks.

We recently visited The Hut Group, an e-commerce company with headquarters in Northwich, Cheshire. The group operates over 100 international websites that sell premium FMCG direct to consumer in the health and beauty markets through its own proprietary technology and operating platform. In each of the departments we visited, whether technology, marketing or sales, they were working in teams, learning and co-operating.

We all know that a key challenge for corporate leaders is securing top talent and creating a culture that attracts the best their money can buy. We also know that education is driven by agile working and a central reliance on high levels of IT support. It is no surprise to us that designers are taking inspiration from some of the best higher and further education (HE/FE).

The following education projects show a great range from different perspectives – designers, property professionals and manufacturers.


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Fairhursts-MIF (23 of 50)

The Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool
The Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) is a unique public/private partnership between the University and Unilever, aiming to revolutionise materials chemistry research and development. Designed to reflect the creative processes involved in discovery and innovation, the MIF building contains a variety of laboratories, from large, flexible spaces through to smaller areas for task specific work. Offices are situated around a large, full height central atrium providing natural light, a feature staircase and exhibition/event space. Central collaboration areas on each floor allow PHD students, the University and Unilever to interact and share knowledge in a relaxed, informal setting.


London Metropolitan University, Aldgate
Willmott Dixon Interiors (WDI) were selected to improve student facilities for London Metropolitan University’s (LMU) Calcutta House campus based in Aldgate. The £4.3 million project represents the longer term strategy for the LMU to develop and to make the most of their built environment.

As part of the refurbishment under the SCAPE Framework, WDI completed the refit of five floors, which included space for a metal workshop, a wood workshop and a basement accommodating a film and animation studio, a rapid prototyping and digital print workshop, a finishing workshop, and the on-site hire shop.

The works were conducted within 23 weeks across 43,000 sq ft in a live environment. The client was satisfied with the delivery team’s enthusiasm to get the project completed on time and was pleased with the end result.


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Spark Building, Southampton Solent University
The Spark is a showcase for excellence in learning, teaching, research and educational spaces. With 35 classrooms, five lecture rooms, two lecture theatres, a café, conference centre and an atrium ‘heart-space’ with a stunning red pod, it supports peer-to-peer learning, discussion, interdisciplinary activity and collaboration. It has revolutionised space management, monitoring and utilisation to define a new education experience.


University of Salford
A theme of ‘The Library in the Park’ celebrates the fact that the library overlooks the historic Peel Park, the UK’s first ever municipal park. The project, through colour coding, zoning and some tongue-in-cheek graphics, has successfully transformed a neglected space into a series of diverse learning environments.


Prifysgol Bangor, Menai Science Parc Ltd, Anglesey
Menai Science Parc Ltd (M-SParc) links Bangor University’s academic research with commercial expertise to create a space that will house and grow companies focused on energy and clean technology. The first building is centred around Tanio, a communal innovation space that aims to excite and inspire, fostering a network to support knowledge sharing.


Seaham High School Learning Resource Centre 2

Seaham High School, County Durham
Part of the Priority School Building Programme, Seaham High School is a new-build secondary school, built over two floors. The school’s vision was to create a vibrant school where every child matters; creating new surroundings and a fresh and engaging learning environment for their pupils.


University of Sussex, Chichester Building, Brighton
Willmott Dixon Interiors (WDI) were selected to refurbish the University of Sussex’s Chichester Building – the home of its engineering and informatics. The refurbishment of the Grade II listed building, designed by architect Sir Basil Spence and constructed in the early 1960’s, involved the restoration of the external envelope, including external fabric repairs, roofing, and replacement to the ground floor to provide new facilities.

WDI also completed the full refurbishment of the internal space, which involved upgrading the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The project was secured through the Scape framework, a popular procurement route for the higher education sector, which includes time and cost saving benefits. The £7.1 million project was delivered in 55 weeks.


Coventry University London Campus, Dagenham, London
Willmott Dixon Interiors (WDI) has been chosen by Coventry University to create its new CU London campus at the Civic Centre in Dagenham, breathing a new lease of life into the building.

The £4.5 Million project will see WDI transform the current Grade II listed Civic Centre into a cutting-edge learning environment for students undertaking a range of full- and part-time courses.

Based upon the high-quality and low-cost career-focused model of higher education pioneered by Coventry University through its CU Coventry model, CU London will offer lower fees and more flexible learning options.

The University worked with Barking and Dagenham Council to develop plans for the new campus, which will open in September 2017 and applications are now being accepted, with open events being held for potential students twice a month until July.


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Templeman Library, University of Kent
The design team for the Templeman project were keen to ensure that the flooring would contribute to creating a calm and quiet environment for the Library. Milliken’s cushion backed modular carpet was chosen in part for its impressive acoustic properties. The carpet helps reduce impact noise and absorb ambient sound.


Imperial College – Dyson Building, South Kensington, London
As part of the on-going works at Imperial College London, Willmott Dixon Interiors has been awarded its second project to refurbish the Dyson Building, School of Design Engineering.   

The £14 million project, part-funded by the Dyson Foundation, includes CAT B fit-out and refurbishment of 42,538 sq ft. The project will deliver teaching and research facilities for the Dyson School, which will include workshops, design studios, presentation space, office space, formal meeting space, café, research studios, design laboratories and much more.

Delivered to BIM Level 1, this scheme will embody the overarching principles for the Dyson School’s space: open plan and flexible space wherever possible, whilst preserving key original features – e.g. Exhibition presentation room/central vaulted ceiling space/daylight access for studio activity.

The school has a fast growing population of both staff and students, including fractional staff actively working in industry. The school, currently located in 10 Princes Gardens, South Kensington, expects to grow by 100 people a year for the next four years.


Cheetham CofE Community Academy, Manchester
Working closely with the school, office refurbishment consultancy firm Whitespace was briefed to transform the blank space of a new building into an inspiring, modern interior, all with the help of approximately 250 of KI’s Postura+ chairs in complementary colours of Lime Zest, Jet Black, Iron Grey, Slate Grey and Grape Crush.


Medical School Foyer

The Learning Centre, University of Birmingham
The Learning Centre refurbishment transformed an existing facility into a contemporary and progressive learning  environment to support multiple faculties with the resultant spaces, providing an IT rich environment to support student needs, be visually explicit, comfortable to use and make the facility evident as a resource for the whole campus.


Medical School Foyer & Barnes Library, University of Birmingham
The Medical School Foyer and Barnes Library is a major international centre for research and education in medicine. The new  space  needed  to  be  adaptable  for  student  study,  social  learning and  provide a coherence and legibility to a previously underwhelming space. The new design has  transformed  the area into a light,  efficient  space  with  a  contemporary style that supports social and individual study methods.


Cheadle Hulme High School, Manchester
The proposal for Cheadle Hulme High School Sixth Form Centre has been generated from key pedestrian flows from the roadway to the main entrance of the school. The sinuous curved wall at ground floor level draws students in and provides visibility through a glazed wall to the cafe/breakout space.

The classrooms are stacked above the ground floor zone connected by an ETFE foil roof atria.

Part of the learning space cantilevers out towards the road to announce the school in the hours of darkness.


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Rhyl High School, Denbighshire
Rhyl High School’s £25m facilities opened after years of planning. Godfrey Syrett and KI created a custom purple range of Postura+ chairs, task chairs and stools. Postura+ EN5 chairs were provided in three colours – over 1,500 in custom purple, along with ash grey and ink blue.


Ashton Sixth Form College Reception
This new entrance building for Ashton Sixth Form College utilises the translation of the college’s ‘graphic’ logo in a simple extraction of geometry. Through rationalisation and re-order, the graphic skeleton provides the basis of the new form for the project. A series of dramatic fins announce the new point of arrival, suggesting a kinetic energy; a progressive movement forward. The entry axis from the main road brings visitors into a transitional zone between ‘old’ and ‘new’ architecture, expressing contrasting textures of brickwork and Hi-macs acrylic stone.

Ashton Sixth Form College Art Building
The proposed art building aimed to collate the existing art and design facilities into a single facility at the heart of the college campus. The building was designed around a cruciform circulation route, which addresses key flows around the campus. The large 3D and textiles classrooms were placed on the ground floor, locating the classrooms with the heavier equipment on the lower level. The large art classrooms and photography and graphics studios were located on the first floor enabling the rooms to be lit with north-facing roof lights.

Ashton Sixth Form Student Centre, Manchester
A hub for student socialising and dining, the new student centre at Ashton Sixth Form College includes a cafe, areas for private study and a roof top terrace. The simple box form is surrounded by vertical fins that shade and conceal the spaces within, giving the students an element of privacy that is separated from the rest of the college.


Forbo_GCU_SaltireCentre_FullRes_019Glasgow Caledonian University
The aim of the project was to refresh the University’s library in order to create a bright and inviting space for students to socialise and study within. Forbo Flooring Systems’ Marmoleum Modular Lines in a plank format, combined with Marmoleum Marbled, were installed throughout the building, as they provided the contemporary, yet practical finish required.


South Essex College, Thurrock Campus
A complete design solution of architecture, interior and graphic design has successfully created a learning environment that represents the college’s ambition to provide an inspiring and effective training experience for students and the local community. The abstract and boldly coloured design highlights the creativity and diversity imbuing a modern educational facility for the College.


The Holywell Learning Campus, Flintshire
The Holywell Learning Campus is a showcase of considered, methodical design principals, strategically delivered to result in enhanced learning experiences and outcomes for students and teachers alike. Identified as one of the key projects in Wales in 2016 and demonstrating exemplary performance of BIM, the project has generated new jobs and created a sustainable community environment.


The Naylor Library – St. Mary’s University, Twickenham
FG Library & Learning, part of the Frem Group, were asked to provide a modern and innovative furniture layout for St. Mary’s University. The space needed to include collaborative work areas, individual study, one-to-one and group study rooms, computer and laptop space, comfortable study seating, café seating, flexible teaching spaces, a technology enhanced learning suite as well as shelving.


Drill Hall Library, University of Greenwich, the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent
For the refurbishment of the striking Drill Hall Library – a spacious and light space, complete with metal beams and exposed brick – Elite Flooring installed 2,000 sq m of DESSO AirMaster Blend 9980. The dynamic carpet tiles contrast its industrial image and provide the perfect backdrop for breakout spaces, where collaboration is encouraged.