Designing for the future of digital education
Exeter College - Institute of Technology
|Awards||Shortlisted for Constructing Excellence South West Project of the Year / Client of the Year / Value Award 2021|
A brief history
In 2016, AWW began working with the College on their property strategy. This initial review was expanded by to form a masterplan, covering the next 15 years of development on the Hele Road Campus. The Digital and Data Centre is the first phase of this masterplan. The project comprises two parts, a dedicated facility for the teaching of digital and data technologies funded by the Institute of Technology, and the refurbishment of the existing adjoining Hele Building which will be used to teach the new T-Levels.
As the first phase of the masterplan, the new building is intended to demonstrate the new invigorated proposals for the site. The building will act as the new reception and front door to the college and seeks to showcase new ways of teaching and learning in an open and collaborative new building.
The design solution
Arranged around a central atrium and feature staircase, the specialist digital and data teaching spaces open on to perimeter balconies, allowing visual connection across all levels.
The new IoT facility hugs the original Hele building to present a new and bold entrance to the college. Conceived as an open-ended block, the entrance is signified by a three storey glazed façade, flanked by ceramic clad wings which echo the historic surrounding while provided a new and dramatic face to the college boundary. The front of the college will be transformed from a car park to open lawn.
Delivering the design
AWW was appointed to support the initial funding applications for the project. Having successfully secured funding, we developed the scheme through planning and tender and we are currently working with the contactor, Willmott Dixon, to complete the IoT building. The refurbished Hele Building has been handed over for the start of the September 2020 term.
The scheme has been designed to meet Exeter City Council (ECC) BREEAM Excellent Policy. This applies to both the new building and the refurbished Hele Building. The building provides onsite power from an extensive PV array and takes heating from the site-wide district heating main.
The building will revolutionise the teaching of digital and data technologies by providing dedicated tech hubs, a showcase room, new lecture theatre and a striking reception to inspire and energise.
The scheme is designed around a centrally lit, communal atrium with coffee shop, while the entrance is remodelled to remove most of the cars and provide a wide communal lawn and social space.
The teaching spaces can be reconfigured to allow a wide variety of teaching spaces, while the entire building has been designed to allow wireless roaming access for IT equipment using ultra-fast broadband. Folding walls have been deployed between classrooms to allow larger spaces to be created as necessary.