Innovation Centre
University of Essex

We provided civil and structural engineering consultancy services for this prestigious Innovation Centre constructed as part of the Knowledge Gateway campus in Colchester. The three storey centre provides flexible office space, meeting and conference facilities for up to 50 startup businesses.

Constructed on a sloping site, enabling works included the diversion of a number of existing services and the construction of a sheet piled retaining wall to create a flat area for the building and surrounding plaza.

Future flexibility was key to the design of the building. Clear, open floor areas were required to allow for future removal and installation of partitions, as the resident organization’s space needs change in the future. Consequently, the layout utilizes large span bays internally to minimize the number of columns.

 The architect’s ambition was to create an interior feel of a ‘working’ space, with exposed structure and services. Consequently, careful detailing was needed to ensure the exposed steel frame and concrete floor was aesthetically suitable and in line with this vision.

Service distribution in the steel frame had to be carefully coordinated as all routes are exposed. We undertook design of large web openings in the steel beams to accommodate service distribution within the structural zone.

A syphonic rainwater drainage system was required by the architect in order to minimize the number of downpipes (there are no external downpipes). We designed the below ground system to accept the high velocity and volume discharge, which ultimately drains to an attenuation tank and into the campus surface water system.