First look inside Suffolk's new uni

WITH less than six months to go before it opens its doors to students, Suffolk's flagship university building is now rapidly taking shape.

Russell Claydon

WITH less than six months to go before it opens its doors to students, Suffolk's flagship university building is now rapidly taking shape.

Costing £25 million, University Campus Suffolk's (UCS) first new teaching centre is already establishing itself as a landmark on the skyline of Ipswich's Waterfront with its futuristic curved design.

The last beam was added to the roof of the seven floor building last month and now internal fitting has begun to realise a vision of an iconic home for further education in Suffolk.

Work began on the 10,500 sq metre project last March and is due for completion in time for the new intake in September, with construction bosses saying everything is on track.

Its location provides stunning views of the rejuvenated waterfront and sights of nearby landmarks such as the Orwell Bridge.

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One of the defining features of the building, which has room for 1,300 students at any one time, will be its 20 degree sloping green roof, coated in the plant sedum, which will collect rainwater. The roof is also made up of copper cladding areas.

Between 150 and 200 workers are now involved each day on the final push to fit out the structure, with various coloured glass panels soon to go up.

The campus will be home to the faculties of Health, Well-being and Science, and also Arts, Business and Social Science, as well as the Student Union run cafe.

The Ground Floor will contain two lecture theatres holding 140 students each, while nine further theatres will seat a further 600.

Tony Russell, head of facilities management for UCS, said: “It is going to be a landmark building, not just in Ipswich but in East Anglia. There will not be another one like it.

“The challenge for us now is to make phase two even better. This is just the first building but it will always be the flagship. You will not replicate this again.”

Students will enter the building from a revolving glass door on Fore Street and people driving down towards the campus from Back Hamlet will be able to see the sedum-covered roof change colour as the seasons unfold.

“Firstly it is great insulation and helps the overall running cost and secondly from an environmental point of view it will really bring the whole place to life. It is really going to be a talking point - the whole building will be. It just makes another statement about UCS. We do things differently and this is definitely going to be iconic,” said Mr Russell.

The university, currently based in Suffolk New College, took its first enrolment of students in September and is a partnership between the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex, working with Suffolk New College, Lowestoft College, Great Yarmouth College, Otley College and West Suffolk College.

Sam Barker, the project director leading the Willmott Dixon contractor team, said the sustainable building was constructed using a post-tensioned concrete frame, which cuts out the need for lots of beams and columns allowing open plan spaces.

He said: “The team is very proud to be involved in building UCS's first major facility, one that will be a major addition to Ipswich as well as a prestigious feature for the university. We are working closely with the client to deliver it for September, ready for the new academic term. Things are going well.”

What will be inside the new building?

Ground Floor - Reception, security, post room, restaurant and piazza area, two 140-seater lecture theatres.

First Floor - Faculty offices, teaching rooms, student services, inquiry point, informal open learning area, interview rooms.

Second Floor - Faculty of health offices, informal open learning area, classrooms, learning resource centre, interview rooms.

Third Floor - Faculty of arts, business and science office, student snack area and kitchenette, teaching rooms, classrooms, tutorial rooms and interview rooms.

Fourth Floor - Teaching rooms, classrooms, tutorial rooms, interview rooms and informal learning area.

Fifth Floor - Executive Dean's area and mix of other administration departments.

Sixth Floor - Boardroom and ante room.

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