Long-Standing Collaboration: University of Exeter & UPP

Since 2008, we’ve forged a strong partnership with the University of Exeter and their trusted provider, UPP. Together, we’ve brought to life numerous on-campus accommodation projects, including Birks Hall, Duryard, Lafrowda, Spreytonway, and Moberly. Currently, we’re actively engaged in the development of a cutting-edge Passivhaus scheme at West Park, encompassing over 1766 beds.

Beyond campus borders, our collaboration extends into the heart of the city. Teaming up with various developers, we’ve played a pivotal role in delivering dynamic mixed-use developments in the city center. Additionally, we’ve lent our expertise to support the refurbishment of HiMO portfolios citywide.

Our ability to facilitate seamless collaboration between university stakeholders and developers has been key to our success. Through facilitiating collaboration between interested parties the projects have delivered nominations agreements and the smooth progression of projects, fostering trust and achieving mutual goals.

Navigating Regulatory Changes: Proactive Compliance

In our sector, staying ahead of evolving regulations is paramount. Early on in this project, we recognized the impending impact of the Building Safety Act regulations—a foresight that enabled us to anticipate and adapt to the changing landscape before it became mandatory.

By proactively engaging with the client and stakeholders, we managed the project timeline, ensuring timely adjustments to meet the new regulatory requirements. Our proactive approach not only aligned with the project’s needs but also reassured funders of our commitment to compliance and safety.

To date, we’ve successfully coordinated and submitted four applications under the Building Safety Act, a testament to our dedication to navigating regulatory complexities while delivering on project objectives.

Driving Sustainable Innovation: The West Park Project

In our journey with the West Park Project, we’ve encountered and embraced challenges whilst adhering to best practice. Central to this endeavour has been our alignment with the University of Exeter’s sustainability vision outlined in their Environment and Climate Emergency Working Group White Paper, with their aim to use the Passivhaus methodology.

Understanding the dual objectives of our university partner and development counterpart has been pivotal. We recognized the university’s desire for a sustainable living environment that enhances student well-being, while also acknowledging the development partner’s need for a financially viable scheme that contributes to the university’s long-term success.

At the heart of Passivhaus lies a commitment to building better, not just differently. This ethos resonates with both our university and developer clients, as it prioritizes occupant comfort and well-being alongside energy efficiency.
Our close collaboration with both parties underscores our dedication to delivering on these shared goals. By working hand in hand, we’re not just constructing a building; we’re shaping a sustainable future for students and communities alike.

We have a depth of project experience to anticipate construction issues.

Our team excels at foreseeing potential challenges during both the design and construction phases, swiftly offering alternative solutions. With a wealth of experience spanning 25 years, we’ve constructed student accommodations using every mainstream construction method available, from traditional approaches to cutting-edge techniques. We take pride in guiding our clients towards the building methodology that best suits their program, site, and budgetary considerations.

At West Park, we’ve opted for a concrete sandwich panel construction method, carefully selected to align with the prevailing legislative requirements, particularly those concerning high-risk buildings and fire safety. Furthermore, this approach has proven highly conducive to achieving Passivhaus standards, ensuring both efficient construction and adherence to the project timeline.

In line with the University’s forward-looking vision for a net-zero carbon campus, we’ve collaborated closely with our sandwich panel provider to enhance the sustainability of our product. As a result, we’ve achieved an impressive 30% reduction in overall embedded carbon for the project, contributing significantly to our collective environmental goals.

Innovative Solutions in Student Accommodation: Navigating Legislation, Best Practices, and Stakeholder Needs

Our specialization in student accommodation ensures that our team remains abreast of the latest advancements in materials, technology, legislation, and best practices. We understand that aligning the needs of various stakeholders—such as operators, fire services, and universities—can present unique challenges.

For instance, while prevailing legislations and fire service requirements typically advocate for a “defend in place” strategy in multi-residential accommodations, universities often prefer a simultaneous evacuation approach, which can impact building design significantly.

To address this challenge effectively, we’ve implemented a solution on the West Park project that prioritizes adherence to best practices, as outlined in BS991:2015. This approach enables a “defend in place” strategy while incorporating enhanced stair cores and common areas to accommodate either evacuation strategy. By addressing both sets of requirements early in the design phase, we ensure operational readiness while allowing for future flexibility to meet the evolving needs of our clients.

Scope of Services

We deliver a full service from feasibility through to completion on site and post occupancy evaluation.

In addition, to deliver on our expert service, we offer an in-house service as Principal Designer under the CDM Regulations and Principal Designer Building Regulations role.

We also offer BIM, CGIs + animations, BREEAM, PASSIVHAUS, student accommodation projects planning expertise and an Interior Design service.

Client Feedback:

“I need that sector specialism, both in terms of taking the load off my team but then also navigating the delivery paths of a project. So taking their bruises and championing all of the good and bad experiences they’ve delivered on other jobs.”

Robin Holloway – Assistant Director of Estates – University of Exeter

If we come up with a student accommodation scheme where we have the option to name our consultant team it would be Willmore Iles, as simple as that. I’ve not come across any practice yet that has Willmore Iles’ experience in the sector. There is a depth of knowledge within the team that we haven’t seen in any other practice. That comes across to our clients as well. We would recommend them over anybody we’ve ever seen.

Paul Ellenor, Tilbury Douglas

“What struck me about Willmore Iles is how experienced the team was with student accommodation schemes, also the consideration they had towards the University of Birmingham Student. What we were looking for was a unique bid for our type of Student – as every University will have a different type of student that lives there. Willmore Iles was really willing to learn about us as an institution, they were very much in listening mode and I think that they brought some very exciting designs to the table.”

Einita Suman – Director of Accommodation and Operations – University of Birmingham

I am very pleased with the design of the Lister Gate scheme and the new build extension; in particular the general lightness and aspect of the scheme, making the best of a very tight site. The students really like it.

Simon Bernstein, SJRP Ltd

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss this with you and will call you in the next week to set up a meeting with you.

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