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Topping out of the Design Centre

State-of-the-art design studios for Falmouth College of Arts at Tremough, Penryn, will be 'topped out' on Thursday 22 May 2003.

The ceremony will be performed by Gerry Robinson, Chairman of Arts Council England, former Chairman of Granada plc, presenter of 'I'll Show Them Who's Boss' (BBC2) and Chairman of Allied Domecq plc.

The Design Centre is the first section of the 'hub' building for the Objective One funded Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) that will be opened at the Tremough Campus.

The topping out ceremony indicates that the building has attained its highest point. Gerry Robinson will lay the final trowel of cement, and an evergreen bough (for good luck) will be fixed to the top of the building.

The Design Centre will be opened to students in October this year, just 12 months after construction started in earnest. It will be the first section of the new CUC building at Tremough to be completed. Falmouth College of Arts' students in five design disciplines (3D and spatial design, contemporary crafts, garden design and textile design) will move into spacious open-plan studios which are terraced down the hillside.

The second section of the new CUC building, which Falmouth College of Arts will share with the University of Exeter, is on schedule to open in October 2004. The two institutions will continue to provide their own academic programmes at Tremough, though they will share responsibility for managing other services on the campus.

The whole building has about 16,500 square metres (200,000 square feet) of floor space, equivalent to three football pitches, and it is currently the largest construction project in Cornwall. The £45 million cost is being met mainly by Cornwall's Objective One European investment Programme, via the European Regional Development Fund, with additional investment from the South West Regional Development Agency. Investment for the expansion of student places is being provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Contractors for the CUC building, which is on schedule and on budget, are Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. The architects are Percy Thomas Architects of Cardiff. Buro Happold of Bath are the consulting engineers.

The CUC building is thoroughly modern in concept and design. It has angles and curves, ramps and unexpected corners, as well as open spaces among the teaching rooms, laboratories and studios. The building sits back into the Tremough hillside, to reduce its impact on the landscape, and it will have a planted roof, to absorb rainfall. Natural light and natural ventilation are used wherever possible, to reduce energy usage. The exterior walls will incorporate reclaimed stone from local quarries and will be clad in wood and glass, including a glass wall 200 feet (65m) long that separates The Design Centre from the central courtyard.

The Design Centre occupies about one third of the total building. The open-plan layout of the design studios results from discussions between the architects and the teaching staff of Falmouth College of Arts. Jonathan Adams, of Percy Thomas Architects, said, "Teaching staff felt it was important to remove the barriers between different subjects and to encourage the sharing of ideas. The stepped arrangement of the studios allows for a balance of inward-looking concentration and outward-looking collaboration."

Nearly £1 million of new equipment will be installed in The Design Centre, including an industry-standard rapid prototyping machine for creating high-precision one-off models, and a power Jacquard loom, controlled by computer.

The Tremough Campus also accommodates Falmouth College of Arts' media programmes. It will eventually be the base for some 1500 FCA students.

Professor Alan Livingston, Principal of Falmouth College of Arts and Chair of the Combined Universities in Cornwall Executive Group, said, "The Design Centre encapsulates the aims of the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative. It will provide some of the best facilities in the country for students in Cornwall. It offers space for expansion: we can draw more students into Higher Education, both from within Cornwall and beyond. And as part of the Tremough Campus, The Design Centre represents a unique collaboration between Higher Education institutions."

Russell Day, Project Manager at Tremough for Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, said, "The whole CUC building at Tremough is imaginative and complex. We have known from the start that to complete it on time would be a challenge, but I am delighted to say that we remain confident that The Design Centre can be completed on schedule, and work is advanced on the rest of the building. Sir Robert McAlpine is pleased to be involved in such a prominent project in Cornwall."

For further information contact:

Martin Horrox
Falmouth College of Arts, Woodlane, Falmouth, TR11 4RH
Tel: 01326 213756


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
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