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Modular solution for student accommodation

RoomSolution was Birmingham’s £48m canal side student accommodation scheme at University Locks, part of the Birmingham City University (BCU) City Centre Campus.

FP McCann’s trademarked RoomSolution product has proved ideally suited to student accommodation. The precast specialist has used the system on numerous university halls of residence, and to date, has manufactured and installed nearly 20,000 student rooms on over 30 schemes across the UK. On this project, FP McCann worked on the Alumno Developments scheme with main contractor John Sisk, structural engineer BWB Consulting and architect Glen Howells Associates. 

The project involved construction of 659 student rooms, some 21,405m² of accommodation, in cluster flats with a main tower 19 storeys high. 

Walls, floor and ceiling slabs are linked together to form a unique crosswall construction, with the precast panels formed to suit design requirements. The five panels framing each pair of bedrooms consist of walls 180mm thick, and floor slabs 175mm thick. Window and door openings have been accommodated and each bedroom has four conduits cast into the walls for electrics and communications networks. 

All horizontal and vertical sections were designed for ease of build, linked together with hidden tie rods. Joints were finished with a high-strength non-shrink grout. Walls were either battery cast or power-floated, which allowed for a simple gypsum wash prior to final decoration. The floors were given a pan float finish to the room side and steel mould finish to the ceiling. Individual bathroom pods were installed as part of the build. 

The modular room system offers excellent acoustic and thermal mass properties, ideal for student accommodation requirements.

Additionally, FP Cann provided 3,500 precast units for the structural frame and the cladding envelope on the University Locks scheme. External facade sandwich panels were 525mm or 725mm thick, with the inner leaf 195mm, and the insulation between the concrete faces either 250mm or 450mm. The outer 80mm skin of Portland coloured facade panels was cast with white cement and a selected decorative aggregate, followed by a light acid etch.

FP McCann worked with the same architect, Glenn Howells Associates, on another Birmingham student accommodation scheme in Selly Oak, the 418-bed Battery Park development. The precast specialist again supplied its modular system on the Interserve-built project. FP McCann also used RoomSolution on Swansea University’s Bay campus, working with regeneration specialist St Modwen and main contractor Galliford Try on a 545-unit student accommodation scheme. 

In total, some 2,400 individual precast units were installed, consisting of walls, floors, stairs and landings. Gable walls and party walls are 160mm thick, with each room floor slab 175mm thick. Window and door openings have been accommodated and each bedroom has four conduits cast into the walls for electrics and communications networks.