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Case Study: UTC@harbourside

An award-winning university technical college campus in Newhaven, East Sussex, dubbed as an outstanding regeneration project of high architectural quality and local historical significance, having been rejuvenated with the inclusion of our SIP panels.

Location: Newhaven, UK

Materials: 144mm sips wall panels.

Area: 5787m2

Project duration: 4 months

SIP construction can help overcome some of the challenges faced when rejuvenating historical buildings with great significance to a town or city, creating a state-of-the-art modern build whilst still retaining the important characteristics of the building itself.

In this example, we’ve showcased a project we worked on for Kier Construction, involving the renovation of UTC@harbourside, a university technical college campus attended by students with an interest in science, technology, engineering, maths and computing.

The challenge

We were approached by Kier Construction, who were looking to provide a fast, energy-efficient modern solution to convert two 19th century Grade II listed buildings into a modern, energy efficient educational facility.

It was vital for the project to retain certain heritage features of the building, including the Victorian brickwork, cast iron pillars, and a gantry crane once used to lift locomotive engines.

This project was to be the start of an overall regeneration of the area, which would in turn breathe new life into the harbourside. The design involved using a SIPs wall lining of the existing structure, and then SIPs infill to a new concrete structure and floor structure.

Due to the fact the panels would need to be fitted inside the existing structures, and the newbuild construction was set to be completed whilst we designed the custom SIP panels, onsite surveys were required for the project.

Kier chose SIPs Eco Panels due to the inherent, energy efficient nature of fully-insulated SIP panels, as well as the speed of construction made possible only with SIPs.

The solution

Our in-house design team set to work on the design, taking into account deflection in the concrete structure when engineering and designing the SIPs elements.

Because UTC@harbourside is a highrise building, we also increased wind loadings onto the walls.

There were two main parts to the project:

  1. The SIPs infill to the ground floor of the existing structure. This involved providing SIP walls to line the internal envelope of the existing building, as well as a joist deck floor for the mezzanines and upper floors.
  2. SIPs walls to infill the new concrete structure. The concrete flooring was installed by Kier to support the floors above. The upper stories were constructed from a reinforced concrete structure using SIPs infill panels to provide a fully-insulated wall.

The 144mm SIP panels were installed by our team of SIP specialist installers. For the most part, the build went smoothly, however some onsite cutting was involved due to discrepancies between the concrete structure and initial design.

This challenge was easily overcome with the help of the SIPs Eco team, who were able to carry out some panel modification onsite; something only made possible due to the flexibility of SIP construction.

The results

The UTC@harbourside opened its doors to students in the late summer, providing a 21st century learning environment with a fully-equipped science superlab, engineering suite, computer suite and business zone for students aged 14 – 18.

The project won a Sussex Heritage Trust Award for the quality and excellence of its design. In receipt of the award, Paul Bevan, Chair of Governors at UTC@harbourside, said:

“This is wonderful recognition for the successful transformation of these prominent and familiar Newhaven buildings for UTC@harbourside. The conversion honours their industrial heritage while providing modern, well-equipped teaching spaces that inspire our students to be the engineers, scientists and innovators of tomorrow. I thank HKS Architects and contractors Kier Construction for doing such a good job, and Sussex Heritage Trust for this award.”

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