The project, being delivered by main contractor Robertson North East for Jansons Property, involved two separate buildings. An existing two-storey brick building (‘Building A’ or ‘Weardale’) was refurbished, creating 24 studio bedrooms and communal rooms; while a new three-storey H-shaped block (‘Building B’) was constructed, giving 30 clusters of 4–6 bedrooms with communal kitchens, and 34 studio bedrooms.

Robertson Engineering Services installed each bedroom with prefabricated en-suite shower facilities and electrical panel heating. We fitted a localised fire suppression system to the studios, which had a hob and cooker near the corridor door.

We installed and commissioned a single gas-fired, mains feed hot water heater to feed the existing Weardale building.

In the new H-shaped block, we provided central hot water service plant, which comprises a heat-led CHP system (combined heat and power), to warm a buffer vessel that serves a primary calorifier. The hot water heating is then supplemented by two gas-fired water heaters.

We also provided the usual electrical services along with dry risers and natural smoke ventilation systems, associated with each of the two stair cores.

Requirements & challenges

The building sits on a flood plain, so is elevated by about 1.5m. This meant that floor defence door barriers were required, while all ground floor penetrations needed to have rubber seals.

We had to work closely with the main contractor to ensure efficient sequencing and achieve completion on time. On the new H-block, it was key to carefully co-ordinate access, so we could install pipework services when the prefabricated shower rooms were being positioned.

Solutions & outcomes

Rather than installing the shower rooms in a horizontal sequence on the new H-shaped block, we installed all pipework, testing and lagging each riser, and then located the shower rooms to three floors of clusters. This was done in a two-week sequence. It allowed second-fix wall boarding to follow on in the same two-week sequence, so that all trades were able to keep to the tight construction programme.

Student accommodation provider Unite will own and manage the accommodation.

Jansons Property, construction consultant at Paul Nash, said the firm is “delighted” to have completed its first student accommodation scheme in Durham, adding: “We were aware of Robertson’s track record and experience in this sector but it was their approach to delivery that set them apart on this project”.


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