A pioneering new further education facility dedicated to science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths (STEAM) courses has opened in Nine Elms, London.
The state-of-the-art building represents a significant milestone for the £100 million London South Bank Technical College project, which is being delivered in two phases. Phase 2, set to complete in 2025, will encompass the construction of two additional college buildings dedicated to health, life sciences, and business education.
GRAHAM was appointed as the lead contractor by South Bank Colleges and works on-site for the new college commenced in 2021. The project was procured through Pagabo’s £10 billion Major Works Framework, and this completion marks a significant milestone, with London South Bank Technical College lauded as the UK’s first purpose-built comprehensive technical college in a generation.
The new 10,000 sq m building encompasses a state-of-the-art STEAM centre and provides ten storeys of educational space for STEAM skills. It offers a varied vocational and technical curriculum across key subjects, including construction, dental technology, engineering, digital and creative industries, as well as core academic subjects such as English and Maths. The 46 courses available at the college are specifically designed to arm students with the necessary and relevant skills they need to be fast-tracked directly into employment opportunities or further education and Apprenticeship programmes at London South Bank University via the unique LSBU Group partnership structure.
The new building provides a wide range of formal, informal, and social learning spaces, workshops, break-out areas and a café. Along with a distinctive external façade featuring brickwork, curtain walling and pleated metal cladding, a stand-out internal design feature is the ‘digital spine,’ a series of stacked double-height spaces spanning all ten floors and interspersed with a series of collaborative learning spaces supported by the latest technology.
By providing vitally needed and real-world vocational and key skills training for thousands of young people and adults in the capital, the new college will play a major role in offsetting the UK’s STEM skills shortage crisis and will boost the employability potential for the next generation of talent. According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, a shortage of suitably skilled applicants has led to 43% of STEM vacancies being difficult to fill, while almost 70% of business leaders face a digital skills gap (Source: Microsoft). Meanwhile, the cost of the data skills shortage to the UK economy has been estimated by NESTA to be a huge £2 billion annually.
The new building was delivered by architects Holmes Miller, working collaboratively with technical advisors Rock Townsend Architects and Architecture PLB, to offer a modern, high-quality environment that prioritises learning, mental health, and wellbeing services for staff and students while ensuring future-proof flexibility and sustainability. Designed to be low carbon in operation, the campus has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating. Peter Marsh Consulting Ltd was the Project Manager and Employer’s Agent for the construction and build-out of the scheme.
Rob Joyce, GRAHAM Regional Director, said:
“We are proud to have been part of delivering London’s newest college, which is the first of its kind in the UK since 2007. London South Bank Technical College and STEAM centre will provide vital and diverse hi-tech skills, helping to fill the growing STEAM skills gap in London and the UK.
“Collaborating with an outstanding project team, we set out to deliver a forward-thinking, supportive and innovative learning environment that will open up direct routes into higher education, apprenticeships and jobs, boosting employment opportunities for thousands of students and helping them thrive in the future in highly-skilled positions.”
Mariyam Afnida, Associate at Holmes Miller, said:
“This flagship project, as well as providing excellent educational facilities, has also become a landmark for the Nine Elms area thanks to its distinctive bronze anodised aluminium-clad tower. The extensive use of glazing and large feature windows bring in generous natural daylight and expansive views that we hope will make the building a pleasure to learn in – it has certainly been rewarding to have played a key role in delivering it.”
Jonathan Parker, Head of Construction at Pagabo, said:
“It’s great to see this impressive project reach practical completion after GRAHAM were appointed via our Major Works Framework. The client chose to direct award the works with our framework offering them the compliance and speed they needed to get works underway quickly, and the piece-of-mind that they were using a pre-approved and experienced contractor in GRAHAM. We’re so proud that we were able to play a part in bringing this state-of-the-art education facility to life.”
This completion builds on the success of Lambeth College, the other college under the South Bank Colleges umbrella, which has been the largest provider of skills training and a major employer in the London Borough of Lambeth. The phased scheme of the Nine Elms campus allows for a considerable increase in educational floorspace to cater to a growing number of students in London, along with an element of student accommodation and a shared workspace as part of a new business incubation and innovation hub. The new college complements the wider regeneration and transformation of a previously industrial area in south-west London into a vibrant and popular Zone 1 destination, with excellent transport links and an array of new residential, leisure and retail offerings.