The successful repurposing of an old, open-plan office building into a creative and high quality learning space, encompassing circular economy thinking.
Circular economy commitment
Although 88% of construction waste is now diverted from landfill, it’s not necessarily reused in the same capacity, which means we’re losing large amounts of embedded value (not to mention embedded environmental impact). In order to move to a circular economy and make buildings and infrastructure less wasteful, clients, designers, contractors and suppliers must collaborate to find new solutions. We are a member of the Ellen MacArthur foundation Circular Economy 100, which brings together companies and innovators across the globe to make the circular economy a reality. Our ultimate goal is to have a net positive impact on climate and resources and to enhance lives.
Reuse of an existing structure
This thinking informed our approach to the creation of the new Elliott Hudson College in Leeds. Located within a business park, the successful repurposing of an old, open-plan office building into a creative and high quality learning space required innovative solutions, which encompassed circular economy thinking and lean construction techniques. The existing M2 building on the White Rose Business Park had been constructed as a factory in 1982. The building had undergone a number of internal remodelling exercises and most recently had served as a call centre.
Demolition and new build would not have been the most efficient use of resources. The building was both structurally sound and large enough to accommodate the new college, so we worked with the client and architect to come up with a solution that would transform a large but dingy open-plan office into a modern teaching facility.
The alternative design approach made best use of the square shape of the existing building. The area of 6,600m² was increased by adding a new half-width mezzanine, increasing the area to 7,333m² and providing two levels to accommodate teaching rooms, designed around circulation spaces. The addition of new roof lights has increased natural daylight levels, reducing the need for artificial lighting and giving the college a natural flow with light and open teaching spaces.
Roof lights provide natural daylight
Reducing and reusing resources
The external façade of the existing building was a mixture of low level curtain walling and high level aluminium panels. Removal and replacement would have created unnecessary waste and increased the project costs, so the aluminium panels were spray cleaned and recoated, and the curtain walling was refurbished and reused. We also reduced excavation waste from site by laying a new resin over the existing car park to create a multi use games area and we reused block paving to create the pedestrian areas. Even the ceiling tiles were recycled by our supplier, Armstrong, who provided collection bags to site so that off-cuts could be taken back to the factory and remanufactured into new ceiling tiles.
Careful planning achieved construction
waste production of 96m3/£1 million
Designing out waste
By retaining the existing structure, we have delivered a high quality building for the client, incorporating many circular economy principals. We have reused existing materials and many building elements have the potential to be disassembled for future reuse or recycling. Innovative thinking has ensured a lean, less wasteful construction process, with minimal environmental impact and lower production costs.
Existing materials were reused and building
elements have the potential for reuse or recycling
Creating the classroom ‘pods’
Inside the building, all ceilings, floors and structural platforms had to be stripped out before we could create the new teaching spaces. This open space was then subdivided to create the college accommodation using a lightweight framing system, similar to the steel frame solution used in the construction of new buildings. Working with local manufacturer, Orca, the panels and frame were designed to create classroom ‘pods’. As well as reducing waste from onsite construction, this system guaranteed the quality of the classroom pods, which were designed digitally using BIM and manufactured off-site.
Once delivered to site, the 40 pods were installed within ten weeks. Unlike a stud wall, each steel pod is fully load bearing and structurally independent, allowing first fix to commence earlier, reducing the overall programme and the time spent working at height. This light gauge steel frame was a great success, allowing different trades to work simultaneously, which created a lean construction process. It has also been designed and assembled with disassembly in mind, allowing for efficient remodelling or change of use in the future.
A local manufacturer created the classroom ‘pods’
Prefabricated plant room
Working with our supply chain specialist, Waites, and our in-house services engineering team, BAM Services Engineering, the plant room for the College was constructed off-site, then delivered and craned into position before being ‘plugged in’ to the building services. The use of prefabricated plant rooms or modules has increased as BIM is used more widely. The building services installation was designed and built digitally, and while the services infrastructure was being fitted in the building, the plant room was being manufactured off-site. This allowed the plant to be pre-commissioned, ensuring it worked efficiently first time, saving time on site and reducing the need for recommissioning. At the end of its life, the plant room can also be decommissioned and removed for controlled disassembly and reuse or recycling of parts.
Prefabricated plant room improved
quality and saved time and resources