Wigan University Technical College

Outstanding transformation of the Rushton Mill into an award winning education facility
Wigan UTC Academy Trust
3,820 sqm
September 2013
Nightingale Associates
Client's Specification


This high profile project comprises interior refurbishment of the existing Rushton Mill to create the new UTC; together with a new build three storey extension, following demolition of the existing annexe.

The scheme transforms the historic mill interior, creating modern teaching spaces, from the basement to the second floor, along with extensive office and administrative support facilities on each floor.

Set in a conservation area, the iconic building is part of the Wigan landscape and has served formerly as a grain warehouse, a gas showroom and offices for Wigan MBC.

Wigan’s ground-breaking University Technical College has been fully fitted out to support curriculum specialisms which include food production, manufacturing, engineering, green energy and recycling.

Wigan UTC is home to the world’s first controlled environmental agricultural facility using a vertical high density growing system or in other words the world’s first educational vertical farm and one of only a handful of vertical farms in the world.

The refurbishment project meets the standards of design expected of an educational building, including robust acoustic and fire safety detailing. The building is fully accessible and DDA compliant.

Designed around contemporary thinking, the open plan layout allows for passive supervision of learners.

The office and support areas have been delivered to the same exacting design standard, whilst providing open spaces and state of the art IT connections to enable flexible working, communication and collaborative teamwork.

Key Challenges

The site was located in Wigan town centre, fronting the ring road, in close proximity to a market hall, shopping mall & other college and community buildings.

This project involved working within the constraints of the existing mill structure and incorporating specialist equipment.


Other key challenges of this project included understanding the end users requirements for the aquaponics vertical farm, designing a suitable air ventilation system for the kitchen and ensuring we achieved all the clean room requirements, all of which we achieved.

Added Value

Throughout this project we invited college staff for escorted tours of the works and also supported a career presentation in the adjacent Wigan Youth Zone.

We also added value by delivering improved acoustics qualities of the existing building.

Client Feedback

“The facilities are of exceptional quality and will provide fantastic learning environments for the students of Wigan. I’d like to thank Eric Wright Construction and their employees for delivering this superb project on time and to budget.”
Chris Hatherall
Principal, Wigan University Technology College

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