Exactly three years after our first involvement, the VITA Nottingham scheme successfully opened in September 2020. Packing in over 300 studio apartments, a gym, hub and support services, we’re envious of the lucky students who get to call this one home.
Our student digs weren’t a patch on this!
DFC initially had an advisory role to the client, then developed the design in close conjunction with Fuse Studios and the wider design team. Novation to Morgan Sindall followed allowing us to contribute through to completion of the project in a meaningful way with respect to fire safety. Did someone say Golden Thread?
We’re delighted to have delivered this scheme with the client, design team and contractor, especially given the global challenges faced this year due to Covid-19. The fire engineering design was driven by the architectural constraints of the site. Bounded on all sides by the canal, tramline, Grade II listed station building and the famous Hopkinson Antiques, efficiency in the use of space was always going to be key. Actually the surrounding city views limited the height, and even the ground conditions limited what could be done at or below ground, so we really were boxed in. This was a great driver for design though, and we all stepped up to meet that challenge!
Consequently, a fire strategy supporting a single stair was developed. This approach is in the style of a block of flats, as opposed to the commonly adopted hotel or student cluster strategies typical of these types of buildings. However, by working with this sophisticated client we had the confidence to push the envelope and maximise a building’s potential. Of course, they in turn relied on DFC for our expertise to support them in development of an operational plan through engagement with the Ops team. Establishing and achieving this type of reciprocal relationship is surely the goal in fire safety and certainly serves everyone’s best interests.
Extended travel distances in bedroom corridors at VITA Nottingham were supported by fire and smoke modelling in line with the Smoke Control Association guidance. An adequate standard of safety was demonstrated to Ball and Berry Approved Inspectors and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, and the supporting cause and effect was delivered on site by working in conjunction with Protec and SE Controls. The benefit of novation really exposed itself here, as we could amend the strategy as required, meet the client’s needs and achieve a safe building design.
Of course compliance issues with fire rated partitions, fire stopping, and product testing occurred as you might expect in a building with extensive compartmentation. However, these were minimised with product selection support. Regular site attendance by DFC allowed proactive involvement and problems to be solved on site. Working directly with the Morgan Sindall design managers, DFC gave them increased confidence to engage with their supply chain and solve last minute issues.
And that’s the success we want to achieve and celebrate in what we do. Early input. A well worked through design. Involvement on site throughout the development. Supporting to the client and contractor to close out the project.
Thanks go out to Select Properties, Ball and Berry, Morgan Sindall and the whole design team, after a cracking collective effort to deliver. And thanks again to Fuse for the photos. We look forward to working with you all on the next scheme!
- Posted by Matthew Eyre
- On 15th October 2020