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Front entrance to the University of Birmingham Collaborative Teaching Lab with gold brise-soleil

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory

Morgan Sindall Construction was appointed to build the new Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) for the University of Birmingham at its main Edgbaston campus. The new building will facilitate the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and will also enable enhanced collaborative and interdisciplinary training and engagement.

The building is part of the University’s long-term plan to continue to enhance the teaching experience, giving students real-world experience alongside their academic study to prepare them for the STEM roles they will be moving into post-study.

Key Stats

Building features wet, dry and computer laboratories for use by different student groups

Building brings together a range of specific STEM disciplines under one roof, which is not usually typical in this type of setting

The building is a BREEAM Excellent rated

The front of the building is characterised by large angled brise-soleil made from gold anodised aluminium

At a Glance

Client

University of Birmingham

Budget

£40 million

Timing

77 weeks

Location

Birmingham

Year

August 2018

Sector

Higher Education

Our approach

Like many University projects, the team was working in the surroundings of an existing live campus, with students and staff moving between buildings and amongst the campus grounds. The team liaised closely on a weekly basis with the relevant University teams to establish key dates for students including exams, so that work could be planned accordingly. They also used project newsletters to update key stakeholders and the university community of key project updates.

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory site was surrounded on three sides by live academic buildings including the University’s Biosciences Building. The team’s dedicated full-time banksmen guided just-in-time deliveries onto site. To enable this the site was specifically widened at one end to cater for large turning circles, with additional access at the top of the site.

Social impact

The team took part in the Open Doors event to welcome people to site to find out more about the work and the people involved in constructing a project of this scale. The team also utilised VR (virtual reality) technology to guide people through the completed structure. The team included a dedicated session for those undertaking construction related qualifications so that they could put their theory into practice:

It's not obvious from the other side of the barriers, what's going on. So it is has been really enlightening to see it all up close what's actually involved – it's really enriching to be able to see what's going on the construction site.
Open Doors event attendee
I enjoyed the presentation as well – looking at what the company do and what they are offering was really valuable. I loved the site as well and it's inspired me to look at construction and the on-site element of the works more and how this links to my studies.
Open Doors event attendee

The team also welcomed two placement students to site, Laura and Beth, who were studying for Master's degrees in structural engineering at the University of Birmingham. The placements gave the two students the ability to apply some of the theory they were using in their own dissertations to a real-life construction environment, and to talk to the team about their approach.

Working innovatively with our suppliers to support carbon reduction

A parametric (3D) curtain wall was originally specified for the project which was supplied by a single EU manufacturer. To reduce the carbon involved in transportation, overseas fabrication, site energy and waste and end of life, a new product was developed by a local carpentry and window fabricator in Birmingham to mimic the specified products dimensions, performance and characteristics.

This timber-engineered product was tested for air permeability and weather-proofing before being prefabricated offsite, fully tested and installed on site within the original progamme. This was a brilliant example of the team engaging with local suppliers to invest time and resources to allow them to develop their own product range in line with sustainability goals.

A picture of the window developed by a local supplier for the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory
By working with a local Birmingham-based supplier the team developed an innovative solution that reduced the carbon and cost involved in importing a product
I chose UoB because I wanted to be on a campus and to feel more like a student. It’s got a close link to the city and the chemistry department is really good with all sorts of research labs. I also heard the CTL was being built for my second year study so I thought it’d be a great opportunity to get to use the new building for my degree. It was part of what excited me to join.
Student, University of Birmingham
I think they've performed brilliantly. The whole team was always approachable and focused on delivering the project for the benefit of the University. As a project manager there are three variables – time, cost, quality – to single the best one out would be difficult. We have delivered on time, which was the key driver for this project, but we've done that without sacrificing quality and we've also been able to do it on budget. We've hit all three variables!
Adrian Jones, Project Manager, University of Birmingham

The team has worked collaboratively with the University of Birmingham on a number of projects, and in November 2020 completed an £18 million, four-storey, 34,000 square foot extension to the University of Birmingham’s internationally-acclaimed business school.

Front entrance to University House project, with a new extension to the Grade two listed building

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