Bright future in store for UCS

IN a few weeks time students will move into University Campus Suffolk's waterfront building. As the building takes shape, JAMES MARSTON is given exclusive access.

James Marston

IN a few weeks time students will move into University Campus Suffolk's waterfront building. As the building takes shape, JAMES MARSTON is given exclusive access.

SUFFOLK'S first university building is beginning to take shape.

The scaffolding is coming down, the striking sedem roof is in place, the interior is being fitted out and the contractors are preparing to hand over the building in just a matter of weeks.

Back in February the building was just a shell, open to the elements and, today there are walls and rooms, the reception desk is in place, even the carpets are going down.

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) director of estates and facilities Neil Jackson said: “The handover is in mid September and we will have students in here by the end of September.

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“The internal services, the electrics, the plumbing, the cooling and heating systems are going in. It's on budget and on time

“We are very pleased and the building is moving on very well. The builders Willmott Dixon have worked very, very hard to make sure we get what we require.”

With three staircases, a sloped roof, 325 rooms, and 10,500 sqm of space the waterfront building - it has no official name - is a big project.

Costing an estimated £22million the new building is divided over six floors

First Floor - to include student services area, offices, teaching rooms, classrooms, tutorial rooms, interview

rooms, and open space learning area.

Second Floor - to include learning resource centre, faculty of health offices, teaching rooms, classrooms,

tutorial rooms, interview rooms, and open space learning area.

Third Floor - to include informal student snack area and kitchenette, faculty of arts, business and science

offices, teaching rooms, classrooms, tutorial rooms, and interview rooms.

Fourth Floor - to include teaching rooms, classrooms, tutorial rooms, interview rooms and informal learning


Fifth Floor - to include executive dean's suite and administration offices,

special projects. This floor is expected to be a non-student floor.

Sixth Floor - mezzanine floor - to include boardroom and ante-room.

After a brief health and safety talk construction manager Steve Wibberley lead a tour of UCS staff and visitors inside the building.

Inside the reception area he points out a large student area and two storey exhibition space.

He said: “We are really pleased with the progress that has been made. There are two huge lecture rooms on the ground floor that hold 140 people. The audio visual equipment is going in. All you're looking at now is another coat of paint and the carpet tiles.”

Built to withstand flooding, the building is installed with a number of defensive measures including so in the event of flood the repairs necessary will be kept to a minimum.

Light and airy the building makes as much use possible of natural light - the first floor informal study area a good example.

It is on the first floor that the first of the rooms has been carpeted - the students services area.

Steve said: “We've got 324 other rooms to do. Commissioning the building is going to be the most difficult part of the project.

“The building is glazed ion order to get as much natural light as possible. It is no longer a building site and we are working our way through the building ready for the handover.”

With an estimated 215 contractors on site there are painters, glaziers, electricians and a host of contractors all over the building.

As we walk up the stairs to the second floor we are shown the faculty of health, wellbeing and science administration area.

It is particular interest to UCS associate dean Claire Webb.

She said: “This is the first time I have seen inside the building and my staff will be in this area. I think it isd a wonderful building. There are some fabulous open spaces.

“I knew it would be spectacular but to see it in reality is amazing. There is so much natural light in such a big building.”

UCS solicitor Keith Hamilton of Mills & Reeve is also looking rounds the building for the first time.

He said: “It is hugely impressive. There's been a huge effort by UCS management to complete the project to a very tight deadline.”

With panoramic views of Ipswich and the surrounding countryside from the top floors, the UCS building is already becoming one of the town's landmark - helped by its distinctive sedem grass roof.

Neil said: “There are several benefits to the sedem roof. The principal reason is it helps to control surface run off of water, it has a visual impact, it helps acoustics and it is good for the environment and aid the thermal comfort of the building.”

- Are you studying at UCS? What are your thoughts on the new building? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to

UCS Waterfront building - at a glance

- The building has cost an estimated £22million.

- There will be room for 220 office staff.

- The building will have 10,500 square metres of space.

- An estimated 1,300 students will be taught in the building every day.

- The building will include public access at ground level and a restaurant.

- At it highest point the building is 33.5metres high.

The aims of UCS

- Establish a thriving university campus with a hub on the Ipswich Waterfront.

- Provide innovative learning centres across Suffolk offering courses, advice and progression routes.

- Make university-level education widely accessible, addressing low levels of higher education participation in the county.

- Build on the established reputations of the founding education partners - University of East Anglia and University of Essex.

- Reverse the 'brain drain' of Suffolk school leavers who depart for university education elsewhere and are likely then to settle in the area where they study.

- Provide higher numbers of graduates for Suffolk's employers.

- Make a strong contribution to Suffolk's economic and cultural success in the 21st century.

- There will be an investment of around £150million in University Campus Suffolk over the next ten

years, including a phase one investment of £89million by 2009.

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