The University of Northampton (UoN) gained university status in 2005, the previous Park and Avenue campuses were built in the 1920s and 1970s respectively, and were not only ageing and costly to maintain, but also unsuited to the way 21st Century students live and learn. Following a detailed scoping exercise and review, the University took a bold step to tackle this. In May 2013, following a two-year feasibility study, the University’s Board of Governors took the unanimous decision to relocate closer to Northampton town centre; to create a new campus, from the ground up, on the banks of the River Nene, bringing back into use a 58-acre brownfield site, which had been largely abandoned for decades, and bringing the student and staff community into the town centre.
UoN’s new £330 million Waterside Campus is a purpose-built site located close to the River Nene at a disused power station near to the town centre. It has been designed to accommodate up to 14,000 students and 2,000 staff. The updated facilities include pressurised air distribution and a biomass district heating network to ensure high levels of comfort for its students.
Kingspan raised access flooring was installed on the Engine Shed, the Senate Building and the Learning Hub. It was selected to deliver easy access to the service void whilst ensuring excellent structural performance and a robust finish for high traffic areas.
The 234,000 m2 brownfield site in Northampton provided the perfect backdrop for the ambitious urban redevelopment. To ensure the project made a positive impact on the local community, it was important for the construction team to not only introduce modern services, but to incorporate and improve the Grade II-listed structures already on the site. The Engine Shed is one such building as it was constructed in 1873 and in a poor state of repair. It was incorporated into the plan to create an attractive Students’ Union building.
Kingspan Access Floor’s raised flooring provided the ideal solution for the variety of challenges and requirements throughout the build programme. This included spaces for exhibitions, lectures, the library and collaborative learning. The system’s flexibility ensured a perfect platform for both the ultra-modern Senate Building and the Learning Hub, in addition to being designed to suit the historical characteristics of the Engine Shed.
18,184 m2 of raised flooring system with a bonded Polyflor Steel Grey finish was installed over these three buildings to achieve a functional design. It also ensured a continuous durable solution. Installing a raised floor allowed easy access to services fitted beneath the systems, whilst the steel grey finish complied with the specified colour palette of the campus and suited the industrial feel of the heritage building. The installation was completed within 16 months, with the whole project completed ready for the September 2018 student intake.
The raised access flooring used across the university included RMG Air Seal, RMG Simploc Air Seal, DRF Simploc Air Seal, and FDEB38 Air Seal, which are all from the Public Services Agency (PSA) range designed for safety and load carrying capabilities.
The building featured a variety of medium and heavy grade solutions, all of which include ‘air seal’ gaskets, thus creating an underfloor plenum that minimises air leakage through the floor surface and allowing users to direct air through the void. This makes the whole process much more efficient and cost effective for the university.