Furness College

Contemporary new education establishment with modern refurbishment of existing facility
Furness College
16,710 sqm
February 2013
Broadway Malyan
BREEAM Very Good


This project was undertaken on a live campus environment, and we worked with the college to involve the students in the building process.

The contract consists of the following:

  • Design and construction of a new four storey multi-functional building with intermediary mezzanine floor structures incorporating a variety of construction and engineering workshops, laboratories, teaching facilities, multi-format LRC and library areas, refectory and hair and beauty facilities totaling 13,147m2.
  • The refurbishment of the existing LRC building to form teaching areas,sports and gym and changing facilities incorporating the infill of the existing double height refectory area; the existing building totalling 3,563m2
  • All associated external works, landscaping, drainage and incoming services

The project also included the demolition of the existing nursery, construction and engineering workshops and associated teaching/classroom facilities.

Our 2nd stage appointment required us to work closely with the design team and employer and provide the lead role in the design and construction team.

Key Challenges

A key challenge faced was the anticipated poor weather affecting programme in the Lake District.

We addressed this challenge successfully by changing design to construct the envelope by fast tracking the works to be off mobile elevated work platforms (not standing scaffold) and introducing a composite cladding sheet as a back ground rather than sequential built up trades.

The College remained fully operational throughout the build and works were carefully phased to enable the facility to work from temporary classrooms and car parks so there was no loss to College activity whilst building the new facilities.

Added Value

This project has been an exemplar for the application of innovative architectural design detailing in order to deliver a high quality appearance in an efficient and sustainable manner.  During the design development period Eric Wright Construction has been managing the design team to ensure that we have been able to offer several solutions as alternatives to the original construction strategy.

Our intention being, to achieve savings in cost and time, which can then be ploughed back into the College’s education budget. A prime example of the success of this process is the radical alternative we have established for the detailed construction of parts of the building envelope.

The feasibility design included a complicated and labour intensive sub strata of timber battens, rigid insulation and plywood to support the copper external rainscreen. Driven by the need to be watertight as soon as possible due to the exposed estuary location of the buildings, our design team has developed a simple alternative comprising a manufactured pre insulated composite panel to which the copper rainscreen can be directly fixed.  This gives added sustainability and health and safety benefits through the reduction of work on site and the increased use of pre-fabrication, helping to reduce waste.

In addition to offering capital cost savings the alternative solution provides programme benefits together with an enhanced U value and greatly simplifies the junction details required to ensure compliant airtightness.  At the same time, the architectural design of the buildings and their compliance with the client’s and planners’ requirements has not been compromised.

While working at Furness College, advanced diploma students studying towards a qualification in construction have been on site to study the piling works, foundations and structural frame as part of their practical assessment. The visits have consisted of a talk from our Site Manager on a particular topic as the work progresses. We also drew up a programme to allow the students some hands on experience on site along with talks on roles and responsibilities from different members of the team.

We supported the College during National Apprenticeship Week 2011 and as part of this, and in celebration of the steel frame completing, Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock and Stephen Critchley, aged 19, an apprentice at Handmark Engineering in Barrow, fixed a ceremonial ‘golden bolt’ in place. Mr Woodcock put the bolt in place and Stephen secured it using a ‘golden spanner’.

In addition, throughout the project we gave regular site tours to teaching staff and other staff members.

Client Feedback

“Eric Wright were able to manage the build whilst approximately 5,000 students also continued to attend classes. We found them remarkable. To say we are missing them already sounds like a cliché but they had become very much a part of our daily scene. As a team and as individuals they couldn’t do enough for us.”
“Everyone that visits the building remarks on the ‘finish’ which is exceptional. The professionalism shown by the firm over the past few years here on site has made a big impression on us and our students. We are still in awe of our building which has such a wonderful calm ambience, the ideal environment to help all of us raise our aspirations. Thank You Eric Wright.”
Anne Attwood
Principal and Chief Executive, Furness College

“It was obvious from the Main Contractor interviews that Eric Wright Construction was very customer focused and this has proved itself on many occasions. Our architect developed our vision and EWC are now transforming it into reality. The College feels oblivious at times that this large spectacular building is taking shape on a working campus. We have an excellent relationship with the team and are very impressed by their organisation and site management skills and not forgetting their attention to detail. They are very respected with the rest of the design team and their enthusiasm is infectious. A project of this size is an ideal live opportunity for our students and EWC have worked with us and positively encouraged their participation. We are on time and on budget thanks to EWC.”
Graham Hodgson
Assistant Principal Capital Projects

Get in Touch

For all enquiries, please get in touch with the team here at Eric Wright.