UCL News


Summer break is 'business as usual' for Estates Facilities & Infrastructure teams

11 October 2018

Much of our work to keep the estate in functional repair happens outside teaching hours.


Every year, the summer vacation presents our best opportunity to deliver a full programme of maintenance works to prepare UCL for the new academic year - the majority of our Strategic Maintenance Programme. The busiest time of the year for Estates is the summer break, combining our 'business as usual' services with this additional programme of repairs and improvements.

Estates Facilities & Infrastructure teams

In addition to being responsible for the operational estate including engineering and facilities (such as building fabric, heating and cooling, safe power and services), the Facilities & Infrastructure Team have continued to strive for improvements to our services, reactive maintenance capability, cleaning and security services. Both our cleaning and security service contracts have been reviewed in this period which will result in improved service delivery in these important areas.

To illustrate the scale of works, between the months of July-September this year, Estates Maintenance and Infrastructure spent £5.7m on Strategic Maintenance Programme (SMP) projects.

This includes over £1m on student residences. Student residence maintenance projects included major improvements to 95 bedrooms, 17 kitchens and 10 bathrooms across two sites, Arthur Tattersall House and Hawkridge House, as well as radical improvements to common rooms across five sites.  This was all completed with 'zero closures' to ensure no disruption to the summer residents. The common rooms were delivered on time within a challenging timeframe to be ready for the new term.

Major refurbishments projects under our SMP this year include:

  • The major remodelling and refurbishment of Arthur Tattersall House at 119-125 Gower Street with a contract value of £1.5m. We repainted, replaced furniture, carpets and soft furnishings to produce a high quality living space for students.
  • Hawkridge House - Refurbishment of two floors to a similar standard as Arthur Tattersall including refurbished bathrooms: £469k
  • Redecoration and flooring works of a large number of bedrooms and refresh of prominent common areas within Ramsay Hall: £200k
  • Refurbishment in partnership with Student Accommodation Team of five Common Rooms with new furniture and fittings: £160k

Other vital improvement work across the estate includes:

  • Boiler replacements at Wakefield Street: the removal of boilers, associated pipework, pump and pressurisation units and replaced with new units: £205k. This improves our heating capability, efficiency and control of the system in that building.
  • Security - £921k of improvements/replacements to access and security controls to Institute of Child Health, Institute of Ophthalmology and improvements to the campus wide surveillance camera system compiled of two servers, nine data storage devices, and partial improvements to a system of approximately 850 cameras.  This investment has a direct effect on student experience, reducing risk to staff, students and business critical activities and facilities and helping people feel safer.
  • Belnor House: £212k of improvements to Fire Alarm and life safety system and replacing of lighting to LED Lighting which has a lower carbon and maintenance footprint.
  • Campus-wide toilet works comprising £180k of improvements to toilets in 25 Gordon Street as well as critical refurbishment and improvement work to toilets in other areas of the campus such as the Wilkins Building and 1-19 Torrington Place. Works are ongoing but will be worth the wait as we are aware they are priority areas due to the pressure it puts on other facilities if they are not in full working order.
  • Christopher Ingold Building: £246k of improvements to airflow ductwork for laboratories, as part of a wider building improvement strategy on ventilation compliance and energy consumption.
  • Petrie Museum Air Handling Units: £289k of works to the Air Handling units by the Petrie Museum to preserve the priceless artefacts there. This is both an insurance requirement and assures compliance to the museum's regulatory standard (The Gov't's Museum Association and Arts Council). The Petrie museum currently houses the world's oldest woven garment (Tarkhan Dress dated to between 3482-3102 BC) - one example of the need for correct air handling. 

This three-month snapshot into the workings of our busy Estates Maintenance and Infrastructure team is a fraction of the overall work we do but demonstrates the kind of projects, investments and priority areas for improvement. It also illustrates how we work - often at short notice, always under pressure to complete works ahead of term time to minimise disruption to the teaching estate.

Geoff Prudence, Director of Facilities and Infrastructure, said: "The summer period is always our busiest time as we utilise our teams to make the most of their time across campus. The improvements we deliver directly impact staff and student experience and it is critical that we address the most pressing issues and do as much as we can in this period. As ever I am very proud of my teams for the speed and scale of what has been achieved this year. Yet again we have achieved 'zero closures' - completing our planned works in time for the first day of term."

Future and upcoming work for the Maintenance and Infrastructure teams includes roof renewals across campus and primary infrastructure works such as heating an electrical systems; all critical ahead of the winter season and expected increase in rainfall; and the exterior of the newly refurbished Kathleen Lonsdale Building.

Martin Earlam, Head of Engineering, said: "Our primary job is to 'maintain the house of UCL', keeping people safe, healthy and secure. As with all our work, these projects have to be planned, managed and delivered outside busy teaching periods quickly whilst ensuring longevity and value for the works. We make the best decisions we can in prioritising and planning SMP works and I hope you will experience a positive difference on campus in these areas."

Another significant Estates project to complete ahead of the new term was the refurbishment of levels 2 and 3 of the Wing, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way. This work has resulted in the delivery of 526 new teaching seats, new social learning and break-out space, a fully accessible lift and a new suite of gender neutral toilet facilities. You can read more on our Transforming UCL news page.

If you would like to report a repair, you can raise a service request via the Estates team.