Specialist £7m STEM facility completes in Bristol

Work on a £7m specialist STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and creative further education centre at a college in Bristol has now completed (Mar 2021).

The three-storey Brunel Centre building at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) puts sustainability and wellbeing at its heart, with a number of key features prominent in its design.

Leading independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy, Pick Everard provided cost management services throughout the project, working closely alongside the project manager Provelio, the main contractor Willmott Dixon and architect Hewitt Studios.

Barry Reeves, associate quantity survey at Pick Everard has been working on the project. He said: “Sustainability and user wellbeing were really important to the client when considering this new facility and you can really see that has been integrated into the design throughout the building.

“During the pre-con phase the decision was made to switch from a traditional steel frame for the building to a CLT (cross-laminated timber) one instead, which had a significant positive impact on the building’s carbon footprint – the switch itself meant we have prevented 445 tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere.

“This approach also meant that the number of people on site at any one time was drastically reduced – something which meant managing COVID restrictions on site was much less challenging than on some traditional constructions.

“The building is naturally ventilated throughout, uses air source heat pumps, and there is a photovoltaic system integrated into the building’s brise soleil – just one of the examples of putting renewables at the fore of design for students to see every day. The building also features a ‘live’ monitoring panel in the foyer where students can see exactly how much energy, water and other services the building is using.”

The project team adopted a ‘fabric first’ approach meaning the scheme is highly insulated and sealed, combined with natural ventilation and lighting, solar panels and the CLT frame, delivering a highly sustainable building.

The project also saw the replacement of 400 sq. m of car park and tarmac replaced with wildflower meadows aimed at encouraging biodiversity on site. The brise soleil also features a number of LED lights, making an artistic feature of it at night.

Now complete, the 1722 sq. m building sits across three storeys and will provide teaching and learning spaces for hundreds of students for STEM and creative subjects.

SGS Group Chief Executive, Kevin Hamblin said: “I am delighted with the fantastic development of this new centre for high tech skills at SGS. The build will provide increased capacity in the area for the next generation of scientists, technicians, engineers, and creatives and inspire them to push harder to achieve their educational goals. Credit must be given to WECA (West East of England Combined Authority) who had the foresight and confidence to make this investment, as it will provide a world class environment for another 400 students a year to study at SGS.”

The building has been funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

Dr Patricia Greer, chief executive of the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is more important than ever that we help people of all ages to acquire the skills and qualifications they need for our changing workplaces and to help protect and secure jobs. So we are proud to support the Brunel Centre. This brilliant new facility will help provide opportunities for many people across the West of England as we work together to secure our region’s economic recovery.”

Christopher Grier, Head Procurement Landing Gear & Fuel Systems, Airbus, LEP board member and Chair of the Skills Advisory Panel, added: “The new purpose-built Brunel Centre will really inspire the next generation and help them get their new careers off to the best possible start with the vital skills they need to secure the jobs of the future.

William Phillips, director at Pick Everard added: “We are very pleased to have completed works on this project for SGS. Working in close collaboration with the rest of the project team, we have delivered a highly sustainable building on time and on budget despite the challenges faced by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a really fantastic building, which puts sustainability and renewables at its core, putting it front of mind for those students who will study there day-in-day-out and inspire the next generation.”

Pick Everard was appointed via the NHS Shared Business Services framework.