Dec 11, 2014

Timber frame teaches new direction for student accommodation

By Alex Goodfellow, Group Managing Director, Stewart Milne Timber Systems.

It’s an interesting time for student accommodation, with new ways of working helping to transform the way institutions approach new build projects. Increasingly, as existing stock comes to the end of its working life or new stock is required, the construction phase is being revolutionised by the increased use of contracts for offsite manufacture and build systems.

Growth area

2014 has seen a record number of people studying at UK universities with half a million students estimated to have been accepted for first year places, up from 496,000 last year. Universities UK estimates that at least £8 billion will be spent by higher education institutions on facilities to help drive up standards. Student accommodation is one of the areas to benefit and, with increased demand for spaces, there is an acute need for new student housing at sites across the country.

Timber systems offer an easy option for the university sector with offsite manufacture leaving minimal onsite disruption, while it’s also much quicker than traditional builds.

Student accommodation is an extremely important sector and there’s significant demand for high quality, sustainable accommodation which is completed fast and cost-effectively.

What are the benefits?

We know that quality of build, speed and cost are some of the most important factors for our clients. Stewart Milne Timber Systems has a proven track record of delivering high quality student accommodation projects for educational institutions across the UK. Timber systems are ideally suited to these types of development because, with no negotiation on academic term times, it is important to complete work during quieter periods. Developments using timber systems perform well through speed of build and the energy efficiency. Offsite manufacture means project schedules are not dependent on long spells of good weather while the quality of factory standard products is guaranteed.

Our experience

At Stewart Milne Timber Systems we’ve experienced a 70% increase in orders from the education sector in the last five years, with speed of construction, reduced disruption, and energy efficiency all combining to drive growth. In that time we’ve helped deliver many major projects worth in excess of £6.8m providing accommodation for up to 2600 people in locations ranging from London to Stirling.

- Completed in January 2014, the £300k University of Stirling’s Residence 1 is a three storey, 280 bedroom student accommodation block comprised of individual townhouses and apartments

- In 2013 a £65m development for University of Essex opened at its Colchester campus. The 228 bedroom across development was made up of 19 four-storey townhouses.

- In September 2011, a new £30.4m 1000 bedroom eco-friendly student village ‘The Green’ opened to students at the University of Bradford.

- Plymouth University (Truro Campus). In 2011, the £8.5m 232 bedroom on-campus combined student and medical staff accommodation at the Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital

The future

We know there is demand for timber build systems and we expect to continue to see fresh enquiries in the coming months. In short it’s an exciting time to be involved in the timber sector.

As more organisations embrace the use of timber systems for a wide range of projects – from homes to hotels, from public sector builds through to commercial property developments – then the scope for wider industry growth in 2015 has never looked more likely.

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

Keep up to date

Stay in touch with our latest products and project, simply sign up to our newsletter