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City Campus – new images of work progressing

University of Gloucestershire has today released the latest images highlighting how work is progressing on its new City Campus development in the centre of Gloucester.

The external facades of the building are now taking shape with new windows installed on all elevations. Many of the windows have been supplied by Crittall Windows – the same company that fitted the original windows for the Bon Marche store in the 1930s that later became Debenhams.

The new windows are close replicas of the originals, but double glazed for energy efficiency.

New glass lanterns have been fitted on the roof, to let light in through new atria that have been cut through each floor down to the basement. Picture windows will shortly be installed, creating a wall of glass on the façade looking out over Kings Square. As a result of these alterations, the building is once again filled with natural light.

the roof the building featuring new glass lanterns
The roof of the City Campus building featuring new glass lanterns, with Gloucester Cathedral in the background

Inside the building, all of the former shop fittings, partitions and equipment have been removed, taking the building back to its shell. Extensive work is underway on fire protection, to ensure the building meets latest safety standards.

The installation of the new partitions, fittings and services is about to start. These will create the new spaces for teaching, research, social learning, staff offices and libraries, as well as a café, university library, city library, Students’ Union offices, and specialist facilities for the Health and Wellbeing Centre.

The external facades have all been cleaned and the stonework is being repaired. The original tracery panels that will sit above the original shop windows on the Oxebode side are being restored, ready for installation.

The replacement windows feature panels decorated in a darker colour to emulate the metal finish of the original design. They were painted white at some point, but will be restored to remain true to the building’s 1930s Art Deco heritage along the Oxbode facade.

New double-glazed windows have been installed at City Campus

Morgan Sindall Construction, who have been awarded the main contract for the ambitious project, have faced significant challenges as they have uncovered the secrets of this 20,000m² building, not least the need to strip significant amounts of lead paint and to investigate archaeological remains as they are uncovered. An update on the archaeological findings will be issued soon.

The strip-out and structural work has given the University and Morgan Sindall a much better understanding of the building, requiring many adjustments to the development schedule. But with that phase largely completed, the final phases can be confidently planned through to completion in June 2024.

This will allow the University to start operating from the building next summer, with teaching commencing at the start of the new academic year in September 2024.

The stripped-out interior of the third floor of the building at City Campus
The stripped-out interior of the third floor of the former Debenhams building

The School of Health and Social care will be the first occupants of the building, along with Gloucestershire County Council’s new Gloucester Library and the new Health and Wellbeing Centre – a partnership project between the University and One Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board.

University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Marston, said: “People passing by will now be able to see the building coming back to life as the windows are installed and the stonework is cleaned. Inside, the space is also taking shape.

“This has been a challenging project, re-purposing a complex and rather run-down old building to meet the University’s needs. But we can now begin to see what a transformation of the building it will be, with original Art Deco facades restored, a striking glass wall on Kings Square, and inside, a fantastic environment for students and staff.

“We are now just a year away from realising the vision of creating an exceptional new teaching campus, bringing new life and vibrancy to the heart of our city, and giving a powerful boost with our partners to the regeneration of the historic centre.

“The level of interest in the project has been really heartening. We’re very pleased to share these latest photos to update the wider community on how the work is progressing on what used to be their Debenhams and will in future be their City Campus.”

A man removing lead paint from a wall at City Campus
Lead paint being removed from basement walls at the former Debenhams building

Richard Fielding, area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “We are delighted to be working on the transformation of this former department store into a city centre campus, whilst retaining the character and charm of the building.

“We have a proven track record of successfully delivering educational facilities and to give the previous Debenhams site a new purpose has been an exciting challenge for the team. We look forward to seeing the area flourish once more upon completion.”

Top image: New picture window panels are being fitted to the external facades at City Campus