Anglia Ruskin University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care in Chelmsford is a state-of-the-art medical education facility housed in a technologically advanced building and a key part of the development of the university’s campus expansion programme.

Royal HaskoningDHV has provided structural engineering and public health design services, working with main contractor SDC Construction Group and Ridge Architects. The design allows for 4,000 sq m of specialist medical teaching space in a four storey construction with fully coordinated finishes, including architectural featured glazing and terracotta rain-screen cladding.

The design uses materials with extensive thermal mass such as exposed concrete soffits and dense blockwork walls to significantly reduce the amount of energy that the building will consume in its lifetime. The building has natural ventilation through its high level windows which, when left partially open overnight in summer, will draw in cooler air that will be absorbed to keep the building cool during the day. Heavy insulation also reduces heat loss in winter.

One of the challenges for our team from the outset was that the building’s height was constrained by planning criteria. We devised a concrete frame solution which maximised available space and minimised the structural depth of each floor by using 250mm thick concrete flat slab construction, with the slabs supported on exposed concrete columns. A 350mm thick concrete flat, transfer, slab supports the inset roof columns.

Our team worked closely with the architect and specialist sub-contractors to develop the support system for the external windows and the terracotta rain-screen cladding. The grey terracotta tiles are held in place by a secondary aluminium sub-frame which in turn is supported by an insulated structural steel framework fixed back to the concrete slabs. Both the aluminium cladding support and steel sub-frames were designed in-house by our technical experts.

A main feature of the building is its double height atrium entrance which has been achieved by anchoring large steel box sections back to the concrete columns using cast inplace steel brackets.

By making the initial concept design of the Faculty of Health and Social Care a reality, we have delivered an innovative and economical solution using sustainable materials and energy efficient features for a flexible building that will be able to adapt to any changes of use in years to come.

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