UCLan breaks ground as work begins on £8.15 million social spaces scheme

10 February 2017

A ceremonial ‘ground breaking’ event has marked the construction phase of the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) £8.15 million social spaces project.

The new facilities will improve the campus experience and provide a place for staff and students to come together in a relaxed environment while incorporating areas for break out activities and informal spaces for social learning.

Preston-based Conlon Construction is on site delivering the scheme, which is due for completion in autumn 2017 and is part of the University’s £200 million Masterplan proposals.

On Monday 6 February, representatives from UCLan and Conlon Construction gathered to celebrate the first official ‘spade in the ground’, commencing the building work.

Conlon has already started groundworks for the Greenbank and Harrington site, where it excavated approximately 700m³ of material and laid 60m³ of new concrete, as well as laying the new foundations. The construction firm will now prepare the site for the concrete floor slab and the steelwork structure.

Meanwhile at the Foster site, which is the larger of the two social spaces, Conlon has completed a piling process which saw 90 concrete piles used to provide a solid base for foundation work. Across both sites approximately 150 tonnes of steel will be used to form the structures.

David Taylor, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the UCLan Board, said: “Through our Masterplan vision the University is fully committed to providing outstanding facilities for students and it won’t be long until we start to see these new buildings taking shape. We are creating two exciting and inspiring social hubs which will respond flexibly to the changing needs of both students and staff.

Michael Ahern, UCLan’s Chief Operating Officer added: “We have also made it a priority to work in close collaboration with the Students’ Union on this project to ensure our investment meets student needs and enriches their experience as much as possible.”

Sana Iqbal, President of the UCLan Students’ Union, commented: “It’s fantastic to see the work beginning on the new social spaces, the quick turnaround of these spaces means that students who have been disrupted temporarily will reap the benefits.

“We’ve worked closely with the University to ensure the spaces meet the needs of a diverse range of students. It will be somewhere to relax between lectures, particularly for commuting students, a place to socialise and even use kitchen facilities. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished results.”

"We are creating two exciting and inspiring social hubs which will respond flexibly to the changing needs of both students and staff."

Michael Conlon, chairman at Conlon Construction, added: “It’s exciting to start the construction of the new student-focused facilities and play a role in supporting UCLan’s vision for an inspirational learner experience on the campus.

“The University is in the heart of Preston city centre and attracts many talented students to the area which in return brings so much into the local economy. As a Preston-based construction company we’re always keen to get involved with projects that make our city an even better place to live, work and study.”

The social spaces project has been designed by multi-award winning architecture practice AHR and is part of UCLan’s Masterplan to strengthen and enhance the University as it develops through the creation of a world-class campus.

The social spaces project in numbers:

  • Two sites: Foster, together with Greenbank and Harrington
  • Currently up to 20 people are working on site at any one time; this could rise to around 60 workers as the project progresses
  • Approximately 700m³ of material excavated to date
  • 60m³ of new concrete and 12tonnes of reinforcement form the foundations at the Harrington and Greenbank site
  • At Foster, approximately 90 concrete piles 300mm in diameter were drilled and formed down to a minimum depth of 11m
  • Floor slab for each site will need approximately 140m³ of reinforced concrete
  • The total steelwork required for both structures is in the region of 150tonnes