Business school's newly extended 'education space' wins shortlisting

Published: 25 March 2009 at 16:16

Construction project at Ashcroft International Business School is selected for building awards finals

A new extension to the Coslett Building, a part of Anglia Ruskin University’s East Road Campus, in Cambridge, has been shortlisted for a prestigious building award, as part of the LABC, East Anglian Building Excellence Awards 2009.


The new extensions to the building include a newly constructed frontage, and the addition of new interior ‘education space’ which will provide improved facilities for teaching staff and students of the world-acclaimed Ashcroft International Business School. The new state of the art entrance was designed by architects Saunders Boston Ltd and constructed by Haymills Ltd. The development project for Anglia Ruskin University was overseen by Cambridge City Council’s Building Control team, who worked closely with the architects throughout the project.


The Coslett Building is located in the existing 1960s Coslett block which, typical of its time, is a plain five storey teaching block of brown brick and old steel single glazed windows. Speaking about the building project, Vice Chancellor Professor Michael Thorne, said:

“The new extensions were required to bring an exciting and vital expression to the building which was in need of radical modernisation, and to present a quality to reflect the importance of the Ashcroft International Business School.”

“The new Coslett Building now fits with our other buildings in that it hasbecome an almost fully sustainable environment.  For this reason and many others, I am delighted that the project has been shortlisted, along with many of East Anglia’s premium new building projects, for these awards.”

The extension project includes a high specification of bespoke structural and glazing solutions. In addition, it creates a new first floor Student Common Room, extension to an existing ground floor café and entrance to reception and main circulation areas. It provides enhancement to an existing enclosed courtyard and important campus thoroughfare by creating a new focus to the Coslett Building and a new hard landscaping scheme alongside the historic Ruskin Building. The café extension is designed to take advantage of opening doors onto the courtyard for overflow café use. 


Internally, the upper floor Student Common Room is linked to the new entrance and existing café with a double height space, allowing users of the Student Common Room to look down onto the café and courtyard beyond though an entirely glazed front façade whilst maintaining the physical separation required for security when the Student Common Room is used for out of hours access. 

The importance of low energy use has been a major feature of the project requirements, and is subsequently implemented into the design.

The new areas are served by an intelligent and carefully controlled natural ventilation system operated by temperature sensors. This involves introducing fresh air into the building at ground floor through controlled level low level louvers. Air movement within the building is exploited through the process known as the stack effect in the double height space- as air warms so the density decreases and it becomes more buoyant and it rises without the use of fans. The air is discharged through automatically controlled opening roof lights located on the upper floor student lounge.

The front floor to roof glazed façade allows natural light to penetrate into what is a relatively deep plan space, so reducing the dependence on artificial lights.

To reduce the impact of large areas of glass causing high heat loses it was essential to have a high specification for the glazing system. All units use coated glass with an argon fill to the double glazing.  To offset the glazing heat looses other main elements of the building have been provided with additional insulation.  The architects worked closely with the services engineers and Cambridge City Council Building Control to ensure full compliance in this respect.

The internal services include a large bank of display screens visible from the courtyard providing departmental information. Wireless IT is included in the student lounge while heating is achieved through time less and robust radiators.

The existing courtyard is home to a large London Plane tree, which is preciously valued by the University. It was a serious challenge to Saunders Boston and the Structural Engineers to meet the high standards required by the Trees officer to avoid causing damage to the tree roots. The engineering devices used included cantilevering the new foundations

To improve the energy efficiency of the existing building, Anglia Ruskin University elected to replace many of the existing single glazed windows. The elevations facing into the courtyard of the existing five storey teaching block were replaced with new double glazed windows. This work was part of Phase 1 of a Long Term Maintenance programme, Phases 2 and 3 are schedule to be completed by the end of the year.

Construction was undertaken in a very constrained site whilst the existing building was in full teaching. This required careful co-ordination with the building users and the contractor from the outset of the design.

The project involved Building Control at Cambridge City Council, through a partnering arrangement, who were involved at the earliest stages of project. Procurement was by two stage tendering process and involved a traditional JCT Contract. Other consultants included: structural engineer Peter Dann Ltd, Services Engineer Roger Parker Associates and Quantity Surveyors Edmond Shipway Construction Consultants and Project Managers Cyril Sweett Ltd. The contractor was Haymills Ltd.

The winners of the LABC East Anglian Building Excellence Awards 2009 will be announced at a dinner on 24 April at the University Arms Hotel, Cambridge, in the presence of Wendy Hurrell of BBC London.


Categories include Best Education Building or Development, Best Partnership, Best Small Housing Site, Best Conversion to Residential, Best Small Commercial Development, Best Social or Affordable Housing, Best Domestic Extension, Best Large Commercial Development and Best Sustainable Development.