West Thames College, London

Architect:

Mackenzie Wheeler

Estimated Build Cost:

£45M

The Works

Russell Thomas was the lead structural engineer for the development of this Further education campus in West London. This included the refurbished entrance building, then three new buildings housing teaching areas, administrative offices, a sports hall, theatre and ETFE clad atrium.

Whilst the theatre, sports hall and atrium were enclosed in a steel frame, the reinforced concrete frames of the buildings were ground-breaking in their approach to sustainability. By adopting a variety of techniques, Russell produced a building, including large areas of fair-faced concrete, that is about as environmentally friendly as concrete can get, yet the approaches adopted were either cost-negative or cost-neutral. The principal approach was adopting lightweight concrete for the entire frame, which avoided the requirement for quarrying fresh aggregate and reduced the reinforcement tonnage.

By reducing the dead weight of the building, it also meant shallow foundations could be used rather than carbon intensive piling. Cement replacements in all the concrete also contributed significantly to reduced embodied carbon. This building has been much feted within the industry including a series of lectures and talks for the Concrete Centre.