State-of-the-art educational building
The London City Institute of Technology is a collaboration between Queen Mary University of London and Newham College, together with a wide range of employers. It will specialise in delivering higher technical education and apprenticeships, with a focus on STEM subjects such as engineering, digital and low-carbon growth. It is based in London City Island, close to Canary Wharf, and backed by £28m in funding from the Department for Education and the Greater London Authority.
Woodhouse was commissioned to carry out a Cat B fit-out of the 8-storey new build. Key features of the design included exposed services throughout, giving it an industrial vibe, a statement reception area, and an integrated IT environment using the ‘rule of one’, which brings both student experience and operational benefits.
Engineered for optimum functionality and safety
Overall, the environment is open plan and minimalistic, so we paid close attention to ensuring the acoustics were appropriate for the space. We also appointed specialist engineers to ensure that the smoke ventilation system was tailored to the open plan, which resulted in installation of automated doors to ensure the smoke ventilation path was maintained in a cellular layout. We also revised the fire strategy and undertook the building control negotiations on behalf of the client.
A project that ticks all the boxes
Although the 30,000sq ft building was built to BREEAM ‘very good’ standards, the funders required that this be brought up to ‘excellent’ in the fit-out. There was a very low margin for achieving compliance, so this meant close liaison with BREEAM assessors to ensure that all credits were achieved in order to hit the ‘excellent’ mark. As with most projects, marrying design intent and statutory requirements with actual budget was challenging – we value engineered the layout and M&E, and we worked closely with the client team to reduce the cost whilst retaining the design intent and overall performance. Doing this whilst in the mobilisation stage of a project always requires a bit of fancy footwork!
Many moving parts
The contracts were not signed until December 2021, with an ambitious, but immovable, completion date of September 22. The building itself was incomplete when it was handed over to us, but fit-out had to start in order to meet the desired timescales. We took on managing the site, controlling access for the landlord’s contractors who were finishing their works. We also carried out Technical Services Management, including validations and remedial works to the landlord’s Cat A works, alongside our Cat B fit-out. Being flexible and working with other teams is all part of delivering successful projects, and we are accustomed to doing it.
The keys were handed over on time, and those studying at the Institute will benefit from a state-of-the-art space with superb facilities. It was great to be involved in this project, which will provide a host of upskilling and reskilling opportunities for adults and play a key role in creating the UK’s next generation of highly-skilled workers.