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Morgan Sindall lands £76m Oxford Brookes halls deal

11 May 23 Morgan Sindall has been awarded a £76.5m contract to expand student accommodation for Oxford Brookes University.

A pre-construction services agreement has enabled Morgan Sindall to get a good head start prior to the formal contract signing
A pre-construction services agreement has enabled Morgan Sindall to get a good head start prior to the formal contract signing

Morgan Sindall Construction has now completed enabling works at Oxford Brookes’ Clive Booth Student Village, next to the Headington campus.

The contractor was appointed via the Southern Construction framework to add 515 bedrooms across four new buildings.

A substantial pre-construction services agreement set down the contract principles and released early enabling work packages on site.   This has kept the project on track for completion in September 2024 where otherwise there was likely to be slippage.

Mark Tugwell, deputy director of estates at Oxford Brookes University, said: “With the hyperinflation in the construction industry last year, entering into contract at a level affordable for the university was challenging. Morgan Sindall’s team worked with us collaboratively to successfully find solutions. 

 “Under the pre-construction services agreement, Morgan Sindall undertook far more of the construction than might have been expected of them, keeping the project on track. They are working in a constrained site, surrounded by live student accommodation, having to enter the site through a residential area and past a school. They manage all aspects with total, thorough professionalism which has ensured continued positive engagement with local stakeholders.”

The development, designed by MICA Architects, is now at varying points of construction, with building E currently at roof level, while D is a couple of floors behind, and F and C are at ground floor slab level.

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To save money – and carbon – Morgan Sindall used a rigid inclusions foundations system which negates the need for pile caps by using modulus columns to reduce settlement and increase bearing capacity. Its team also re-used the demolition waste from the existing buildings on the site to form the hardcore piling mat.

CGI of the new halls of residence [Image © MICA Architects]
CGI of the new halls of residence [Image © MICA Architects]

Morgan Sindall also used Giatec for the first time, which is a wireless concrete sensor for temperature and strength monitoring that is cast directly into the concrete. Being able to track when the concrete has cured in real time – giving the ability to adapt the concrete mix and meet the programme curing targets – has meant being able to use less cement.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being deployed through the use of Oculu, a 360-degree camera used to capture surroundings and locate them in their drawings and collaborate remotely with stakeholders.

Morgan Sindall Construction area director James York said: “This particular development presents an opportunity for us to utilise the latest innovations as part of our commitment to delivering high-quality schemes responsibly whilst also saving on costs and time. We take great pride in training our employees on modern methods of construction which in turn helps us to achieve our crucial net zero goals as a business.”

 MICA Architects senior associate Jessie Turnbull said: “MICA have been consistently impressed by Morgan Sindall's collaborative, friendly and flexible approach since we started working with them on realising the Clive Booth Student Village. Their embrace of technology gives us the confidence that they are executing the project with rigour and attention to detail and allows our team to monitor work through the Oculo image capture in addition to our usual in person site inspections. The collective team's thorough coordination through BIM 360 means we know all parties all fully conversant with the 3D intricacies of the deceptively simple architecture, and will deliver an excellent result for Oxford Brookes students.”

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