Green light for new £96m development

The University’s ambitious plans for advancing engineering and physical sciences has taken a major step forward today with a green light from Leeds City Council.

The £96m investment aims to provide an exceptional environment for students and support researchers from across engineering and physical sciences to work together to help solve fundamental problems and tackle key industry challenges.

Supporting the priorities of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and strengthening the University’s international reputation in interdisciplinary research, the investment is a key part of the University’s £520m campus development programme, aimed at securing Leeds’ position in the UK’s top 10 research universities.

To be completed by the summer 2020, the £96m development will relocate the School of Computing and School of Physics and Astronomy, bringing them together with colleagues in Chemistry and Engineering for the first time.

The investment will create state-of-the-art facilities that will rival the best in the UK and will include the new Bragg Research Centre for Advanced Functional Materials.

 

The Bragg Centre

The Bragg Centre for Advanced Functional Materials will be the new home for the University’s internationally-recognised activity in materials characterisation and analysis of soft matter and nanostructured thin films.

It is named after Sir William Henry Bragg, the early 20th century mathematician and physicist who developed X-Ray crystallography at Leeds, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915 for his work together with his son Sir William Lawrence Bragg.

The Bragg Centre will also be the location for to the University’s research in functional materials and devices, which is part of the UK-wide Henry Royce Institute. This institute brings together world-leading academics from across the UK to study and develop advanced materials, with Leeds’ specialism in Atoms-to-Devices and the translation of new material systems from the atomic scale to operational device.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “The Bragg Centre’s interdisciplinary culture and state-of-the-art facilities will support and attract the best minds at all levels, placing our exceptional standard of research on a global scale.

“The Bragg Centre will be a fabulous environment for cross-disciplinary teams to work on big technical challenges, drawing on our existing strengths, while working together in new and disruptive ways to improve both the quality and the scale of our research; working in such an innovative environments will also transform how we can work with our industry partners on real world problems.”

 

Superlabs

The ‘superlabs’ concept behind the development will bring together existing strengths in applied and fundamental research to support interdisciplinary problem-solving research groups. They will tackle challenges facing the private sector and industry, from conception and theory to imaging, fabrication, application and translation.

Professor Steve Scott, Dean of the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, said: “We are creating an exceptional environment to carry out cutting-edge research; the interplay between people, working culture, equipment and buildings will be central to creating the highest quality findings and original ideas.

“The quality of our research, brought about through leading facilities and the exceptional breadth of our academic staff will drive external partnerships and attract international support, leading to greater depth in funding bids and a rise in standards of research.”

 

Research capability

The £96m complex is fully funded by the University of Leeds and will bring together existing scientific hardware from the schools involved. In addition, a significant strategic funding bid is being prepared for Research Councils to bring in the very latest equipment in a range of fields.

Areas of research it will support include energy efficient computing, telecommunications, sustainable magnetic materials, sensors for use in biological systems and extreme or remote environments, pharmaceutical formulations, ‘smart foods’ and medical technologies.

 

Benefits for students

The University’s undergraduate and thriving postgraduate and postdoctoral communities will also benefit, with the investment prioritising world-class teaching and laboratory spaces for research-based learning. The news comes as the University prepares to launch the Leeds Doctoral College, to further support postgraduate researchers.

Once completed, the development will host around 2,000 staff and students, who will study across the spectrum of physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and computer sciences.

Positioned on a prominent public-facing location of the campus in Woodhouse Lane, the proposed 15,700m2 building is the largest, single-project investment ever to have been made on the University campus.

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It’s under your feet, under your car, under your bed and might be holding up the roof above you. The prevalence of concrete, nearly as ubiquitous as the air around us, might explain why we only notice the material when we think it looks terrible. But does concrete deserve its reputation for being dull or ugly?

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Have your say on our Education Spaces

We are inviting our students that have stayed with us this summer to have their say on our Education Spaces on campus. Join us on the 26 July to share your views on our teaching spaces on campus and contribute towards a future strategy that will be developed.

We will also provide you with an opportunity to deliver feedback on a range of issues, including:

• The form and function of space;

• Location, scale and ownership; and

• Suggestions on the how the spaces might be made more appropriate to student and staff needs.

Three separate workshop sessions have been planned for Wednesday 26th July. If you are interested in attending, please complete the form at the link below and indicate which session you would like to attend; we will then confirm with a formal calendar invitation.

Review of education spaces preference form

Refreshments will be provided and students will also receive a payment for attending.

£3.5m for Access Works to Campus

A £3.5m equality access improvements programme will commence this year.  

Access to areas in and around campus matters to all not least disabled students and staff. We remain committed to improving accessibility on campus and produce Access News which provides a roundup of our work in this area.

This summer a significant investment will take place to further improve equality access amongst areas on campus. The £3.5m access works programme, commencing this summer and expected for completion by 2019, includes a detailed maintenance and external environments work programme and will  address issues such as improving way-finding signage, improvements to ramps and some new ramps to replace steps; the provision of new and more accessible pathways and parking bays. Work will also take place to improve access to the Parkinson Building.

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Demolition of Estate building paves way for new project

The construction site for the integrated campus for Engineering and Physical Sciences is now firmly in place. Demolition work on the site is now complete and involved removing the Estates building, Plumbers and Locksmiths workshops and the larger building ‘old boiler house’.

The planning permission and List Building Consent applications were submitted on the 1st June. Next steps will be the second stage of the tender process for the construction work, this runs from June to November. The successful contractor is expected to start on site February 2018.

View the demolition video

 

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Lecture theatre transformation success

It’s official, there has been a significant improvement in user experience amongst our students following the innovative transformation of three lecture theatres last summer.

The £2.8m innovative, sector leading redesign of Dental LT, Mechanical Engineering LT B and Roger Stevens LT 8 completed last summer allowing for a full year of teaching to be delivered this year. The work undertaken saw the physical redevelopment of the lecture theatre spaces to allow group discussion alongside the use of installed technology for group work, interaction, communication and recording.

Students were surveyed before and after the transformation with regards to how satisfied they were with the lecture theatres, how comfortable they found the writing surfaces, how conducive the room was for group study, how satisfied they were with AV and IT provision and how well the lecture theatre lends itself to group work.

The fantastic results showed our students love the facilities, with overwhelming satisfaction scores above 80% for each of these areas.

Some students feedback comments included:

“Great for group work”

“It is much better and comfier”

“We need more lecture theatres like this”

Satisfaction scores

Dental Lecture Theatre

29.4

percentage points higher

52.1% (2016)  –  81.5% (2017 )

Roger Stevens 8

20.5

percentage points higher

64.5% (2016) – 85% (2017)

Mechanical Engineering Lecture Theatre B

20.1

percentage points higher

67.2% (2016) – 87.3% (2017)

Professor Neil Morris, Director of Digital Learning at the University commented:

“Through the transformation of our spaces we have been able to establish the strong pedagogy that we were trying to achieve. The collaborative spaces, with desk based technology which is innovative, enables students to work collaboratively through digital means and enriches their learning experiences.

This first year we have seen a number of the staff undertake the type of teaching they’ve wanted to do for many years but haven’t been able to because of the configuration of the space. The impact is huge for teachers as they are actually able to do the teaching that they want to do and from that comes the positive student satisfaction figures that we’ve seen from our survey.”

 

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