FP McCann - University Locks - Birmingham City University (BUC) City Centre Campus

Project Details

Project - University Locks - Birmingham City University (BUC) City Centre Campus
Sector - 
Technology - Precast Concrete
Company - FP McCann

Project Overview

FP McCann’s Precast Concrete Modular RoomSolution was chosen for the new Birmingham University Student Accommodation. As one of the most prominent regeneration projects in Birmingham, the £48million high quality student accommodation scheme at University Locks is part of the Birmingham City University (BCU) City Centre Campus. 

The scheme encompasses 659 student rooms (21,405m² of accommodation) in the form of cluster flats with a main southern tower standing at 19 storeys high. Developed with an innovative process where walls, floor and ceiling slabs are linked together to form a unique crosswall construction - the precast modules were designed and manufactured offsite to suit design requirements and an efficient on-site assembly process.

In total 3,500 individual precast units have been installed to form the structural frame and decorative cladding envelope. The five panels framing each pair of bedrooms consist of walls, 180mm thick and floor slabs 175mm thick. Window and door openings have been preformed and each bedroom has four conduits cast into the walls for electrics and communications networks. 

External facade panels are of a pre-insulated sandwich construction, either 525mm or 725mm thick. The inner leaf is 195mm with an external thickness of 80mm. The insulation between the concrete faces is either 250mm / 450mm PUR. The outer 80mm skin of the Portland coloured concrete facade panels has been cast with white cement and a selected decorative aggregate.

All horizontal and vertical sections were designed for ease of build, linking together with hidden tie rods, thereby speeding up the installation process on-site. Joints are finished with a high-strength non-shrink grout, fully conforming with Building Regulations. Walls and ceilings are to a power-floated fair face finish which allowed for a simple gypsum wash prior to final decoration. Individual bathroom pods were installed as part of the build.

The modules provide a strong, durable, energy-efficient, fire-resistant composite system that offers excellent acoustic and thermal mass properties associated with precast concrete. The University Locks building has achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating. 

Commenting on the use of the modular precast concrete Room Solution system, architects Glen Howells says: “The construction method of the building offered significant savings compared to traditional build methods. The modular system removed the need for external scaffolding thereby minimising the potential health and safety risk factor associated with people working at height.”


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The next issue of Offsite Magazine is closing very soon and includes skills development, hotel construction and the ways volumetric modular technology can revitalise a wide range of building sectors. Plus...

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  • Derek Thomson at Loughborough University explains the need for through-life performance and design configurability with modular design.

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