Crome Court - University of East Anglia
Crome Court, a new 232-room, five to seven-storey student accommodation building on the campus of University of East Anglia, has recently been completed using Stora Enso PEFC-certified Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) for the superstructure. The new residence, which achieved BREEAM Excellent, is described by the University as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of its student accommodation and is widely acknowledged as an exemplar of BIM in the UK, having recently won a national Construction Computing Award.
The new building is designed by LSI Architects and constructed by Kier with timber engineering and installation by Eurban. CLT was specified for a combination of reasons: in addition to its sustainability benefits, CLT’s suitability for building on a small site with existing residential buildings in use during construction was a key factor. CLT is a quiet method of construction and the University received only one complaint in more than 64 weeks of construction.
The programme was extremely challenging and CLT’s speed and ease of construction was also a major consideration – building with CLT enabled the project to be delivered within a very tight 26 month programme, from initial briefing to turnkey handover to meet the start of a new academic year. This timing was crucial as Senior Estates Project Manager, Martin Lovatt explains: “We had 232 students waiting to take up residence. If the building hadn’t been ready we would have had to find accommodation for them within the city which would have cost us a lot of money and a loss of reputation, so it was high stakes.” Crome Court was actually completed 4 weeks ahead of schedule. Mr Lovatt continues: “The quality and the cost of the building is exceptional – we had a £12m project budget to start with and the project was brought in £900,000 under budget at £11.1m – so a good story all around.”
UEA has a 25 year masterplan of construction works and aims to grow in student numbers by 6.7% in the next 4 years. This measure of growth needs additional accommodation and Crome Court is an important part of its delivery. The project is the first on the UEA’s estate to implement BIM Level 2 which it has delivered two years ahead of the Government schedule for Level 2 delivery.
The project has a specific focus on delivering a complete 6D Asset Information Model and its collaborative use by the project team enabled a rapid design programme with minimal errors. The CLT data supplied by Eurban was checked using modelling checking software rather than drawings, comparing the structural engineers and architects modelled information. As part of delivering BIM Level 2, the project has also delivered an asset information model for facilities management.
Martin Lovatt describes himself as the University Estates ‘BIM champion’ and keeps it high on the agenda. “A lot of people pay BIM lip service and just use it for 3D modelling, but it’s a lot more than that,” he says. “It’s really a platform allowing people to collaborate - not so much a design tool, though that’s at the heart of it, but a management tool for transferring and communicating ideas and data. It is the future.”
Wayne Probert, Sales and Marketing, Stora Enso Building Solutions added: “This is a fantastic building in keeping with the University’s world renowned reputation as a heritage architecture site. It has broken new ground in terms of BIM and we’re very excited to have played our part in this achievement.”