Plans take shape for combined universities development at Tremough, Penryn

Senior officials of Falmouth College of Arts and the University of Exeter met on Friday 4 October to approve the latest plans for new buildings at the £50 million Tremough campus near Penryn, the ‘Hub’ of the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) initiative.

The two institutions, which will share the Tremough site, confirmed outline plans that include state-of-the-art studios for design courses, laboratories for the University of Exeter, new teaching rooms and lecture theatres, a 21st-century library and resource centre, new sports facilities (which will be available to the public when not being used by students) and an enlarged social space and cafe for students.

The 70-acre Tremough estate, just outside Penryn, was bought by Falmouth College of Arts (FCA) in 1999. The existing buildings are already home to the College’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses in media and culture, and an impressive Media Centre was opened in 2001 to provide industry-standard facilities for courses that include broadcasting, journalism and film studies. The Media Centre also offers the use of recording studies and other media services to local businesses.

In the next major phase of development, FCA courses in spatial design, 3D design and garden design, as well as studio crafts such as ceramics, will move to Tremough in a year’s time from their present sites in Falmouth. In September 2004 they will be joined by University of Exeter departments in custom-built facilities for teaching and research. Scientists from the University of Exeter, including the Camborne School of Mines, will be based at Tremough alongside the Institute of Cornish Studies and the Department of Lifelong Learning. Exeter will also introduce a degree in English alongside FCA’s existing course in English with Media Studies.

Falmouth and Exeter students will share new lecture rooms and a new ‘learning resource centre’. The traditional nomenclature of ‘library’ is too limited a term to describe the range of printed, visual and electronic information (from traditional books and slides to CDs and the Internet) that is available to today’s students.

Eventually, Tremough will serve some 3,000 students – the ‘knowledge workers’ of the future who will help to transform Cornwall’s economy. The Combined Universities of Cornwall initiative is expected to pump £32 million a year into the county and generate 1,000 new jobs.

Tremough’s students will also have new catering, social and sporting facilities. A multi-purpose space, to accommodate activities from yoga to martial arts or table tennis, and a fitness suite will be open to the local community when they are not being used by students. Tennis courts and a multi-use games area that would be suitable for football, rugby and hockey are under consideration for the longer term.

The changes to the Tremough estate are designed to be as sensitive as possible to the site, although not everything can be preserved intact. The present stable block will be absorbed into the new learning resource centre. The swimming pool, which was already due to close in 2003-04 during the construction of the new building, will not re-open because the expense of renovation and running costs together will prove too great. It will be replaced by the multi-purpose space and fitness suite, which will be more attractive to potential students. The new facilities have been planned to appeal to as wide a range of sporting interests as possible.

The new buildings at Tremough use local materials where possible (the walls in the Media Centre are faced with Cornish granite off-cuts and filled with china clay waste), and the Combined Universities building will be covered with a natural roof of grasses and low-growing plants, to absorb rainfall and provide insulation. Even at four storeys high it will only come up level with the existing car park and will be barely visible from outside the campus. A ‘green’ transport plan limits the amount of car parking at Tremough, and a free bus service between Tremough and the Falmouth College of Arts campus in Falmouth encourages staff and students to leave their cars at home.

A spokesman for the University of Exeter and Falmouth College of Arts said, “Blending parts of two very different institutions on one site and making the most of shared facilities is encouraging us to be creative about planning the new buildings, but the partnership is a robust one and we are making good progress. It is a rare opportunity to be able to plan the teaching, research and support facilities from scratch. They will be better than anything we could have afforded separately, and that can only be good for the students. Those Cornish students who have previously gone to university in other parts of the country for will now have greater opportunities for higher education close to home, and we shall attract new students into the county as well.”

The CUC is a unique partnership between the universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Falmouth College of Arts, the Open University, the College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth, and the Further Education providers in Cornwall, namely Cornwall College, Truro College and Penwith College.

As well as the main campus, a further £15.9 million will be invested in new higher education facilities at Further Education college sites across Cornwall, offering students a wide range of quality courses at a variety of locations.

By 2010, the CUC will have created an additional 4,000 Higher Education student places in Cornwall, producing 1,300 graduates a year.


Editors notes:

For further information contact
Martin Horrox, Falmouth College of Arts
Tel: 01326 213756
Email: martin.horrox@falmouth.ac.uk


Jason Clark
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