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Victorian building transformed into modern teaching space

A Victorian building and teaching space at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) has been transformed into a modern, flexible learning facility, thanks to a £350k refurbishment.

Work to improve the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (Celt Building) at the Lincoln-based site was designed by local architects, LK2, delivered by construction partner, Robert Woodhead Ltd and procured through the empa ii Minor Works Framework.

The original building featured a collection of mid-Victorian neo-gothic vaulted spaces, recently used as art class rooms. It required a sensitive design, due to its historical significance and structural issues.

Steve Deville, BGU Director of Resources, said: “The development has truly transformed this space to create an open modern facility, which remembers and works well with the original Victorian building. 

“Of course the most important aspect is the addition of another high class development which engages students and staff in the enhancement of learning and teaching.  The project encountered serious challenges associated with working in an old building, but the quality of the finish which has resulted in extremely positive comments from those already engaging with the centre have made it all worthwhile.”

Featuring large openings between the vaulted rooms and tall ceilings highlighted with up-lighting to soften the white walls and ceilings, the design has used copper to reference the original red-brick Victorian building.

The new entrance from an existing courtyard is surrounded by illuminated copper work. The building has a large entrance lobby with reception, seating and two meeting rooms. Through a large opening is the ‘Student Support Space’, which includes IT resources and seating areas for personal conversations, as well as sofa pods for more private discussions.

A vaulted area, featuring two 70 metre Danish oil treated glulam timber beams, houses a giant studio desk, which has been designed to encourage all departments of the CELT centre to not only work there, but share and discuss ideas. Two further offices, one featuring two newly uncovered and refurbished original brick gothic arches, and a disabled accessible toilet facility flank the other side of the ‘Student Support Space’.

Juliet Slater, Team Leader for Woodhead’s Lincoln-based team, said: “We’re delighted with the completed CELT Building. The work we have done has enabled the building to still retain its original Victorian features, while having a fresh modern interior.

“This project forms part of a programme of work we have been delivering for BGU over the past two years, creating a range of teaching, learning and meeting spaces. From the refurbishment of historical buildings, to the creation of new structures, the work we have already completed, and the project which is still in progress, have collectively changed the face of the university’s facilities.”

The designs were drawn up by Lincoln-based architects, LK2. Andrew Kitchen, Director at LK2, said: “It’s been great to work with Bishop Grosseteste University and Robert Woodhead Ltd to deliver the refurbishment of the CELT building as part of the wider project here at the university.

“This has been an outstanding project, the original interior of the Victorian building wasn’t suitable for the proposed use and needed to be transformed to create flexible, contemporary spaces. We were challenged by the building’s structural issues, but worked hard to keep its historical features, which has helped us to achieve a design we are proud of.”

The project was procured through the empa framework which was formed by local authorities in the East Midlands and is managed by Scape Group. It aims to improve the procurement and delivery of construction projects and property maintenance for public sector bodies – saving time and money for them and in turn for council taxpayers.

Ian Towlson, regional frameworks manager for empa, said: “Working together, Woodhead and LK2 have transformed this building into an innovative and modern working space that meets the needs of its users.

“At empa we put community impact at the heart of all our projects, and we hope that students will continue to be inspired to work hard and achieve thanks to the facilities Woodhead and LK2 have provided.”