Broadway Malyan celebrates completion of one the UK’s largest FE colleges / by Chris White

Global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan has completed the delivery of a new further education facility for 2,500 students, teaching and support staff in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Furness College comprises 14,500m² of new build as well as an additional 4,000m² of existing, refurbished building and new sports facilities, making it one of the largest further education colleges in the UK.

The delivery of the scheme – which took place over more than five years in a phased development – saw the introduction of a unified campus with all departments brought together under ‘one roof’. This approach addressed the challenges presented by the fractured nature of the former college site where courses were being delivered from seven independent buildings.

Broadway Malyan’s design of the new College building provides flexible, integrated teaching and social areas for users, whilst creating a landmark building which optimises its location close to the sea front. In addition, it anticipates changing educational requirements and the future growth of the College through the incorporation of adaptable spaces.

Tim Brown, Director of Architecture at Broadway Malyan, comments: “We worked closely with the College to realise its vision of uniting the various departments and provide an equality of status across all subjects.

"In addition, our design has incorporated a number of public-facing spaces that help to redefine the College’s relationship with the local community. Successful delivery is testament to the expertise of our education design experts and their distinctive approach to client partnering.”

One key design element is the external terrace. This allows improved circulation through the site to be raised, linking the new and existing buildings and creating a sheltered external environment for students to meet.

The building envelope has also been redesigned and been wrapped in sheet copper, producing an attractive facade which is also sufficiently robust to endure the hostile weather conditions associated with coastal locations.

The curved form – which allows the building to step up from the street frontage to provide stunning views across the town of Barrow and Walney Channel – has become the identifying symbol of the College’s new branding.

Anne Atwood, Principal and CEO of Furness College said: “I have nothing but praise for the team which has created a building which far surpasses our expectations. The empathy shown by the architect is apparent as you tour the campus."

As one senior member of the Skills Funding Agency said: “Others should see what has been done here – this is what an FE campus should look like.’”

The capital costs for the project were £31 million, funded by the former Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Furness College is one of 13 further education colleges across the UK to be delivered following the ending of the LSC Funding Programme.

Distinguished by its global reach with 16 studios across world centres, unrivalled diversity with over 450 sector experts and distinctive client focus with over 85% income from repeat business, Broadway Malyan creates world-class and fully-integrated cities, places and buildings to unlock lasting value and deliver a ‘return on design’.

 
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