Bristol Business School, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)

University of the West of England

An iconic building for the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

The £55m Bristol Business School for the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), located in the proposed ‘Heart Zone’ of the Frenchay Campus masterplan, provides a new home for the Faculty of Business and Law. The 17,000sqm building forms the most significant building and external space at the campus and sets the scene for future developments.

This world class facility promotes a cohesive relationship between campus, industry and local community with businesses, neighbours, visitors, 5,500 students and staff, all having access to a large café in the airy atrium, community services and a wide range of social learning workspaces to enable collaboration and greater interaction.

Building business relationships is key for UWE Bristol to strengthen their own network and make a positive cultural, social and/or economic contribution to the local community.

The key aim of the project was to create a ‘sticky’ and flexible facility that students, business visitors and staff want to stay in before and after formal sessions and meetings. We therefore designed the welcoming atrium with a cafe, a wide range of flexible teaching and learning spaces, with small private study rooms, large social learning, study and collaboration zones, a lecture theatre, 2 Harvard theatres, technology enhanced active learning environments (TEAL) and generous general teaching rooms furnished with collaborative group working furniture.

The inviting accommodation grand stair in the welcoming atrium links the various levels of the building. Bridges at every level cross the atrium to provide connections between staff and student zones with breakout, meeting and study spaces at the circulation interfaces on every floor.

A dedicated space for the Team Entrepreneurship course offers students the chance to set up and run their own company. Mock law courts give students the opportunity to act out real scenarios by providing local businesses with pro bono legal advice, supervised by local solicitors. We also incorporated spaces off the atrium for ‘Business West’, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Institute of Directors to encourage businesses to use the facility for engagements with these government agencies.

The consultation with stakeholders (300 members of staff across 5 departments and students) has been vast with over 70 presentations, workshops and site visits completed by the end of RIBA Stage 3 alone.

The full time project champion ensured all stakeholders were able to express their views and the University community was able to access a blog that recorded progress and decisions. We also got involved in a very early stage briefing piece reviewing the type of accommodation needed.

Additional funds by donors have enabled the University to provide unrivalled opportunities for students to work directly alongside industry professionals in an inspiring building and give them the skill set so badly needed by the industry.

…I have seen first-hand how Stride Treglown has responded helpfully to the challenges the client has put to them and their positive manner with regard to their relationship with the client representatives. The team at Stride Treglown played a major role in exploring and assembling the brief and proposing well-designed inspiring spaces and finally delivering a building of great quality which at the same time is good value and fit for purpose…

Robin Holloway, Deputy Masterplan Director, UWE (during the project)

Taking BIM beyond design and using it for cost effective facilities management of an occupied university estate.

The recently completed Bristol Business School is not just a pretty building. Behind its facade hides a BIM model that we successfully integrated into University of the West of England’s (UWE) computer-aided facilities management system (CAFM) using the COBie data schema.

The sophisticated information model is now helping UWE not just to manage and report on its new facility efficiently, but to plan its maintenance more straightforwardly too.

For an owner-occupier with an enduring interest in the cost-effective operation of its assets, this looks like a compelling return on investment.

Right client, right time, right place

UWE is an experienced construction client. With a valuable, burgeoning estate, it is deeply motivated to take a long-term strategic view of its development and agile enough to link capital to operational expenditure. It is no surprise, therefore, that it was prepared to commission Stride Treglown to push the BIM Level 2 model past the post-completion stage and into facilities management (FM) territory.

Developing the client brief

We collaborated closely with UWE to develop their brief from the start. It was important to leaven our understanding of their vision for the future with the day-to-day realities of the estates team’s CAFM information needs. From that we distilled a Custom Data Delivery schedule that prioritised only the most critical information.

The brief set, we then collected exhaustive amounts of information from the supply chain with help from the main contractor, ISG, to ensure that there was nothing missing in the model.

25,000 lines of data later, each object in the BIM model was robustly linked to a system, product, space and zone.

COBie won, and nobly

Data becomes truly powerful when organised into knowledge. Very unusually for construction projects in the UK, we delivered the Bristol Business School project’s data in the COBie format. Collecting the data and then applying the format took dogged persistence but was the lynchpin to our success in integrating all the data into the UWE’s CAFM.

The resulting model gives them instant access to live data from across the estate, making the maintenance and operation of their assets more efficient for their hard-pressed FM team.

They can access specific characteristics about each component, such as its SFG20 maintenance codes, condition reports, health and safety ratings, fire ratings, and voltages, totalling a massive 41 lines of data fields per object. All product manufacturer data is also included, putting everything the FM team needs in one place. This radically simplifies and clarifies information management for the duration of the building’s life.

The future’s golden

The integrated asset model adds value in countless other ways.  UWE is able to receive works requests, make statutory inspections, and carry out planned preventative maintenance more effectively, to tighter timescales and budgets. It will also help in any future refurbishments or extensions, all of which can be monitored in the same way. They anticipate saving between 20% and 40% on lifecycle costing.

UWE Bristol’s BIM Manager Mike Ford is impressed. He said:

“The asset data from the model is extremely valuable to UWE as an owner occupier and is the backbone to our facilities management processes.”

With the UK Government’s ongoing commitment to BIM, this project will put UWE in poll position to reap the Digital Built Britain policy’s considerable potential.

Landscape Architecture

Primarily a hard-landscape scheme, Frenchay Square is a flexible-use space that caters for events, pedestrian circulation and cycle lanes, with seating areas and a grove of semi-mature trees.

The key concept for Frenchay Square was to unify the existing campus with the Students’ Union building and the Faculty of Business and Law building (Bristol Business School), enhancing the cycle and pedestrian access, whilst creating a new character for the external spaces.

Natural stone and high quality concrete setts instil a sense of arrival and inspire civic pride, with the character unified by a consistent design that is reinforced through repeat detailing.

A unique pattern has been arranged to reflect the campus identity, with the campus bar code used as a design feature, with the ‘black & white’ banding providing the inspiration behind the striped paving pattern that has become a defining feature of the works.

To provide maximum impact throughout the whole academic year, planting design required an emphasis on drought tolerant species and sensitive combinations which complement. With good planting design, maintenance can be reduced, leaving plants to grow to their full size.  Substantial tree planting was proposed relating to the scale and size of the development, particularly in areas with sunnier aspect.

Ninety semi-mature trees were hand selected at Lorenz von Ehren tree nursey in Germany. They were tagged in September, before being lifted and transported to UWE in December and January.

The visit to the nursery allowed for the specific requirements and characteristics of the tree species to be assessed on the functions and uniformity that they were expected to perform in such an important location for the campus.