During the summer months universities have a challenging programme of refurbishment and maintenance works to complete whilst students and staff are not using the facilities. Ensuring that learning environments and accommodation facilities are in good condition and any repairs have been completed ready for a new influx of students, is an important challenge for university estates teams.
As part of their summer programme of works, Manchester Metropolitan University required the outdated student kitchen facilities in their Cambridge Halls of Residence to be fully refurbished ready for the start of the new term. The Cambridge Halls provide self-catered accommodation for over 750 students. The shared kitchens are an important part of the accommodation, allowing full independence for students and providing a sociable space for them to meet.
Novus Property Solutions was appointed through the Procure Partnership Framework to undertake the strip out and replacement of the 46 student kitchens across four residential blocks, all of which are accessed from a connecting courtyard.
The project included the strip out of the existing kitchens and the removal of all existing cabinets, cupboards, cookers, sinks, flooring and wall tiles. New kitchens were then installed, including a variety of units and new worktops. Appliances including ovens, hobs and sinks were installed and the kitchens were completed with high-quality and durable finishes, including glass splashbacks and modern wall tiles. Each kitchen was also redecorated and all skirting boards, door frames and architraves were renewed. Amtico Spacia flooring was installed to provide a contemporary solution which was both practical and durable.
An important element of the project was the critical programme requirements. The project required the coordination of numerous trades including plumbers, plasterers, fitters and electricians. To achieve the programme, these activities had to run concurrently across the 46 kitchens in a specific sequence and so effective management and control was essential.
April Sidlow, Architectural Assistant for Manchester Metropolitan University commented;
“The new kitchens had to be installed within a very tight time frame of just 9 weeks in order to be ready for when the first students were due to move in. The kitchen areas provide essential facilities and a hub for students to meet and gather. Any delays to the project would have caused great inconvenience and potential upset to students, many of which were moving away from home for the first time. Novus were extremely helpful when rectifying potential problems and issues on site and they went above and beyond to ensure the work progressed as quickly and smoothly as possible, which was essential for this particular job.”
The building had been vacated whilst the works were being undertaken, which allowed for a higher degree of flexible working. Novus implemented out of hours working to fast track the project and ensure all critical programme milestones were met.
Throughout the works, buildings in close proximity remained in operation, including the universities adjacent Cambridge South building. There were a large number of different trades attending site and so all potential interfaces with building users and the public had to be taken into consideration when planning site logistics and deliveries, to minimise disruption and ensure safety in the city centre environment.
Another logistical challenge related to the lack of lifts to access the upper floors of the residential blocks. This presented a huge challenge for the movement of materials and equipment. All items, including the heavy kitchen appliances and units, had to be manually moved up and down stairs. This labour-intensive work was scheduled into the programme and appropriate time was allocated to prevent any unexpected delays and promote safe manual handling practices. Novus Contract Manager, Andy Fisher, commented on the project:
“This is Novus’s first project for Manchester Metropolitan University. It was therefore important that we established a good relationship early on to fully understand the challenges associated with the project and to develop effective solutions. There would be no opportunity to return to site after handover to rectify issues, and so a ‘right-first-time’ attitude was taken, and additional senior management resources were deployed for the duration of the project to ensure consistently high standards of quality were achieved. As a Manchester based contractor, we were able to effectively access the local supply chain and labour required to successfully achieve the fast track programme.”
Delivery of the project through the Procure Partnerships Framework allowed for an efficient procurement phase and a quick start on site, a critical factor for clients in the education sector who are completing summer programmes of work. The project has now been successfully handed over and students are currently moving into their modern and comfortable new accommodation.