Wokfresh open for business at the University of Birmingham

Our first project for the University of Birmingham has completed on site with the opening of Wokfresh, an oriental food offering in the centre of the campus. The restaurant was refurbished from the shell of a former bank to create a visually stimulating new place to eat noodle soup, chow mein, bento boxes, dim sum and sushi.

Image courtesy of contractor Seddon.

Stratford library reopens after a major refurbishment

Stratford library has re-opened to the public after a 10 month refurbishment which has seen Registration Services relocate into the building from its previous home at Winton House. The refurbishment has involved the creation of new spaces, upgrade to services infrastructure and re-fit of the ground floor library space.

Working within the listed building the scheme has required a high level of engagement with the District Council’s conservation officer and detailing sensitive to the various periods of the original building.

More detail about the scheme can be found in our previous news post.

Office refurbishment at Tachbrook Park begins on site

Construction has commenced on the refurbishment and extension of a 1980’s office building in Leamington’s Tachbrook Business Park.  Robothams Architects were appointed in October 2016 to develop the detailed design after planning consent was granted for the scheme originally designed by ESA.

The proposals will see the complete refurbishment of the interior for tenants Kantar Millward Brown, in addition a new atrium and reception will be added which re-orientates the building along with the remodelling of the exterior and roof profile.

The project is being undertaken by MCS Group and is due for completion in 2018 with handover in two phases.

Extension to Beaufort Cooperative Academy, Gloucester

Appointed by E G Carter, a contractor based in Gloucester, the practice are currently working on designs to extend an existing secondary school in the Tuffley area of the city. The creation of a development plan for the school has led to the progression of a first phase to create space for an additional form of entry. It addresses shortfalls in science and general teaching rooms whilst also creating a new entrance to the school and improving circulation within the existing building.


Above, the new entrance joins two existing buildings and identifies a more legible ‘front door’ for visitors.


Above, the new teaching block will be naturally lit with a mixed mode ventilation system aimed at lowering energy use.

The scheme will shortly be submitted for planning consent and if approved will begin on site with a targeted completion of summer 2018.

Sixth form boarding house created at Old Swinford Hospital

Work has begun on site to create a dedicated sixth form boarding house at Old Swinford Hospital, a secondary boarding school near Stourbridge.

The project will see an existing boarding house modernised to create single and twin occupancy rooms with en-suite shower rooms for 60 pupils. An internal courtyard is covered with a lightweight glass structure to create a central common room, with routes to link through the building and connections to a new study area, library and kitchen.


3226-Swinford-view02Stepnell have been appointed to begin the construction work with completion due in summer 2016 for occupation by pupils at the beginning of the academic year. The design team includes DBK as cost consultant, E3 designing the M&E services and Nolan Associates developing the structural design.

Academic work space at Aston University

Work has been completed on academic work space for the School of Health & Life Science at Aston University ready for the beginning of the new academic year.  Individual offices and open plan areas were designed to cluster around informal break-out spaces designed within the University’s main building. Colourful themes for furniture, walls and floors define space for research teams and lecturers, whilst large glazed screens project light into the interior. Robothams worked with Overbury, Method Consulting, Gleeds and Turner & Townsend to deliver the scheme for the University.





Commission to create the Discovery Academy in Nuneaton

Robothams have been commissioned by Warwickshire County Council and Wates Construction to create a SEN school in Nuneaton for the MacIntyre Academy Trust. The school will accommodate pupils with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and behaviour, emotional and social difficulties (BESD).  This is required to meet demand for high quality specialist provision for pupils who are otherwise placed outside of the County with independent providers.

MacIntyre Academies is a multi-academy trust for special schools and specialist alternative provision. Sponsored by the national charity MacIntyre, their schools benefit from 48 year’s experience of innovative approaches to supporting children with special educational needs and their families.

2192-Manor Park Proposed 02The School will initially offer 26 places upon opening, rising to a provision of 80 full day places for children aged 9-18 years. It is envisaged that class sizes will be around eight to ten pupils.

The scheme reuses a former secondary school made redundant by the creation of the Nuneaton Academy in 2011. The existing courtyards and twentieth century brick facades have created a foil against which to set contemporary insertions to augment and extend the existing space.  Closely connected landscape and spatial strategies combine to deliver a successful setting for this type of school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove, the existing buildings provide an intimate scale and private courtyards create a range of opportunities for outdoor activities.

3192-Manor Park-SketchAbove, concept sketch of internal courtyard space.

The project is being led by Andrew Haines and Dawn Spicer, drawing on their experience delivering North Leamington School, and two free schools in Birmingham.

Dawn says of the scheme, ‘it is an inherently sustainable project, the scale and character of the existing buildings will create a delightful school for the pupils with minimum impact on local residents’.

2192-Manor Park Proposed 01Planning consent was granted in April for the project, with Wates Construction due to complete the school in early 2016 for occupation by the first pupils in September.

Democratic Centre for Coventry City Council

Coventry City Council have appointed Robothams to design the Democratic Centre, a refurbishment of spaces within the grade 2 listed Council House. The scheme is focused on making elected members more accessible to the public by providing committee rooms and meeting spaces adjacent to the council chamber, creating a hub for engagement with the public. The project is due for completion in 2016.

3231-Council House ExteriorExternal image of the Council House building in the city centre.

3231-Interior02Internal image of wood work in the debating chamber.

Robothams are providing multi-disciplinary design services, with team members Cundall, Couch Consulting and Jonathan Richard Associates.

Over cladding revitalises College buildings

Last year saw Robothams complete a major refurbishment at Warwickshire College, including the internal and external refurbishment of its six storey teaching block. The scheme involved wrapping the building in a rain-screen cladding system, installing new windows and sun-shading to control solar gains. The project has transformed the external appearance and significantly improved internal comfort and energy use.


 Before and After, at Warwickshire College

In parallel we have been working on a similar scheme for Abingdon & Witney College where a 1960’s system built teaching block has been upgraded at their Abingdon campus. A lightweight insulated render and blue brick shell hangs from the building’s concrete frame creating a crisp new facade and image for the College. The scheme is due for completion in 2015 with funding from the Skills Funding Agency.



Before and After, at Abingdon & Witney College

The key benefits of over-cladding are:

  • Refurbishment and reuse is an inherently environmentally friendly approach.
  • By opting to over-clad both Colleges kept on teaching during the work minimising disruption and avoiding expensive temporary accommodation.
  • New windows have allowed the majority of rooms to be naturally ventilated, solar control glass preventing over heating whilst creating bright teaching rooms.
  • Insulated panels have reduced heat losses and minimised energy use.

We are currently working on similar projects for a number of other Colleges and Universities including the re-cladding of a twenty two storey tower in Coventry.

For more information contact our education team.

Appointment to design the new Aston Students’ Union

We have been appointed under Aston University consultant framework to design a scheme to refurbish the Viscom building in the northern part of the campus. The principal occupant will be Aston Students’ Union who are currently defining their requirements ahead of the design phase of the project.3070-AU Viscom 01An image of the existing Viscom building before refurbishment

The project forms part of the University’s master plan illustrated on their website and will be adjacent to a new home for Aston Business School within AUE1.