Learning environment

Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dreaming Spires’ epithet conjures up images of boating, a large pitcher of Pimms and the incredible buildings of Oxford University. Oxford remains one of the most sought after universities in the world, currently occupies the top spot in the Times Higher Education University World Rankings 2019 list. But do the ‘dreaming spires’ inspire academic excellence or is it simply that students there are the academic elite?

Most people would champion the latter. If you look at other universities in the TES Top Ten, including the California Institute of Technology and Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford universities – each has iconic buildings which could be argued to inspire excellence, were it not already part of their DNA.

But how do the buildings in which people learn affect student experience? It’s perhaps more apt to look at other, less elite schools and universities to see whether the actual building can make a difference to the experience and results. A few years ago a pilot study was carried out in seven Blackpool LEA primary schools, where 34 classrooms with differing learning environments and age groups took part. The study evaluated the classroom environment, with this holistic assessment identifying what constituted an effective learning environment. The result? A well-designed classroom improved the academic performance of these primary school pupils by a whopping 25%.

Moving south, Kingsdale School in London, was given an makeover, with an underused courtyard converted into a new central heart for the school. Covered by a roof constructed using the same materials used at the Eden Project, Kingsdale now has an atrium that bears comparison with the Great Court at the British Museum. Pupils eat their lunch café-style in a continental atmosphere. The school which was in 1998, said to be ‘failing’ after a report that the then chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead, described as one of the worst he’d ever seen. Bullying was rife and only 15% of students were leaving the school with five decent GCSE grades. Now, with the new atrium, plus a cinema and music centre, that figure has increased to 70%, bullying is under control andi expulsions, previously high, are down to almost zero. Kingsdale remains one of the fastest improving schools in the country. Confirmation that architecture and design – both form and function – matter. And therefore restoration, refurbishment and long term maintenance is crucial.

At the recent Higher Education Estates Forum hosted by University of Warwick, Director of Estates, James Brekon, explained the Estates department vision to “Create and care for places that inspire excellence, through exceptional service.” He championed social and cultural place making, creating a better place for those who study, live and work at the university and more sustainable for future generations.

And this is nothing new – as far back as 2013,  Julian Robinson, Director of Estates at London School of Economics found that over a third of students had rejected a university due to the quality of its buildings and lack of facilities (according to research led by the LSE Estates Division and the Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF).

So this is where we come in – here at Building Transformation, we provide national and international façade and roof maintenance and restoration solutions for universities and schools. We know that the condition of a building can inspire students and lecturers alike, playing a positive role in influencing their emotions, feelings and behaviour.

The external appearance and condition of any building is critical in creating confidence and trust in your establishment’s brand, ethos and values. We work our clients, including University of Cambridge and University of Surrey, to develop cost efficient maintenance programmes for buildings. By cleaning the building façades and roofs, repairing failing masonry or concrete, painting buildings, we will maintain the complete external building envelope. And through long term programmes and cycles we can ensure the maintenance of your buildings throughout the year and for years to come – meaning those dreaming spires, atriums and listed buildings will continue to glimmer on the landscape for decades to come.

For more information on how Building Transformation can support your Estates or Building Management team at your University or School, get in touch now

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Building Transformation’s unquestionable honesty and enthusiasm for ensuring the client receives the correct whole-life solution (rather than a quick fix) resulted in us being able to ensure the building was not only returned to its former glory, but will stay that way for years to come. I would recommend them to anyone.

Kenny Gash - Carillion Amey

The work provided by Building Transformation was excellent. Their product and building exteriors knowledge is detailed, comprehensive and practically applied to the client’s needs. They offer a professional, detailed, high-quality and customer- focused service which meets the short, medium and long-term needs of the client, and provides practical, cost-realistic advice.

Kerry Quinn - Echo Arena

Customer service is paramount to Building Transformation and they invested vast amounts of time in providing me with a programme to facilitate what was a very complex and time-specific programme of work for the site. The quality and level of support provided by Building Transformation is priceless to any client/contractor.

Marc Blow MCIOB MBIFM - Carillion Amey

The approach and advice on setting up the works at the Wolverhampton Civic Centre were first-class. Building Transformation’s attention to detail was excellent and the RAMS were followed meticulously to every detail. We were delighted with the works and service, and would not hesitate to use them again, nor hesitate to recommend them to any organisation.

Kevin Egginton - Wolverhampton Council

A 200,000 sq. ft., four-storey leisure venue in the heart of Nottingham city centre surrounded by major traffic routes needed work to be done overnight to deal with the traffic issues, while the site remained open throughout. The project took around three weeks to complete and went exceptionally well; the Building Transformation staff were flexible and able to work round dynamic operational issues. The clean was of a high standard and has made a significant different to the image of the building. A very difficult job done well.

Suzanne Green - Land Securities

May & Co have worked with Building Transformation on a number of projects which have included external building cleaning and refurbishment. They provided a great service, supported by the high level of documentation from the initial quotation to books and industry-related guidance, all relevant to our project.

Anton Theobald - May & Co

I am very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. Also the level of cleaning provided and attention to detail is much appreciated.

Waqas Bin Tahir - Ibis Southampton

I am using Building Transformation’s work to help justify façade restoration works around our business.  They have produced excellent presentations on what can be achieved and is a brilliant piece of informed marketing that is helping slowly win people over in our business to take façade cleaning and restoration more seriously.

 Needless to say Building Transformation is a name that is now becoming known and respected.

Simon Attwood - Broadgate Estates Ltd.

Building Transformation gave great communication throughout our projects.
will be my pleasure to recommend Building Transformation.

Sarah Cameron - My Hotels Group

Just signed off the job with Richard. Myself, the bosses and the tenant all are very pleased with the work. It definitely looks rejuvenated just a case of painting the concrete window surrounds in the new year to finish it off. Have found your company and staff very professional and helpful which has facilitated a project with minimal inconvenience and disruption to our in situ tenants.

Mark Hollinshead - Headruddy Property Development

I had a walk around today with Dave and am impressed with the work so far.  Dave and the team have done a great job.

I’d certainly love to work with you in the future so perhaps before the job is completed we could look at what opportunities there are for the future.

Marie Green - Novotel Sheffield

At this stage, from my point of view your team has been extremely professional, informing us of what was happening at all times and most importantly no disruption whatsoever to our guests and business.

Ludovic Verzi - Novotel Leeds

We are very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. The operatives on site were very professional and communicated to us at all times.

Maria Pinana Mateu - Science Museum


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01234 964016