University of Sussex

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The project:

With more than 2,000 student beds and a total project value for Balfour Beatty of around £150million, the University of Sussex East Slope Residences project is one of the largest single successful offsite construction projects of its kind ever built in the UK.

Our brief:

Our steel frame was to be used as the superstructure for 29 blocks housing 2,100 bedrooms across three, four and five storey units, comprising apartments and terraced townhouses. Our delivery required flexibility in terms of design, programme, storage and logistics, with up to five cranes operating at any one time.

Challenges faced:

  • Working on a slope which at its steepest had a gradient of 1:6, we faced significant design, engineering and logistcal challenges.
  • Immense supply chain integration, communication, education and understanding was needed and we pioneered working methods with Balfour Beatty.
  • With thousands of personnel in the site vicinity every day, Sussex also demanded the utmost respect for site restrictions and health and safety requirements.

Our delivery:

We started talks in 2014, were awarded ‘Preferred Bidder’ in 2015, then spent two years on design and planning approval, before starting on site in January 2017. Sequenced over five phases to deliver 29 blocks in 86 weeks and on a steeply sloping site, we worked to optimise build speed and reduce site-based risks. We also invested in additional storage facilities and worked with Balfour on their onsite prototype unit. Our design team held bi-weekly meetings with architects and Balfour’s design team to ensure every last detail was discussed. And finally, with up to five blocks running concurrently, our fast rate of build, immense preconstruction planning and supply chain integration, meant we delivered on time and on budget.