Ramboll’s multi-disciplinary service helps West Cheshire College achieve its vision

18 May 2012

Marking the climax of an eight year programme, West Cheshire College’s Ellesmere Port Campus was officially opened on Thursday 10 May by five-times gold medal winning Olympic oarsman Sir Steve Redgrave.


Dave Grove. Ramboll

Dave Grove


Ramboll was involved from the beginning of the project, providing a truly multi-disciplinary service. In addition to our core skills of civil, structural and building services engineering, at times this included archaeology, environmental, highways, geotechnical and even rail engineering.

The college first set out its vision to become a specialist vocational establishment with real working environments in 2004. After plans to build a single campus in the heart of Chester were rejected, a far more radical solution was conceived and approved. This involved the demolition of over 90% of the college’s existing buildings on both its Chester and Ellesmere Port sites.

Once demolition had taken place and new construction begun, the development faced a further challenge when the Learning and Skills Council stopped funding to all college projects in England. After an anxious wait, however, West Cheshire was one of only 12 colleges given funding for completion.

The expertise brought to this project by Ramboll is evident in the atrium, or drum, which rises to over 50m in height and is the focal point of the Ellesmere Port campus. A spiralling ramp around its perimeter leads to breakout spaces and the upper floors of the two projecting wings, while the ground floor provides both an exhibition and meeting space. Clearly demonstrating how loads are transmitted down through the building, the exposed trusses forming the roof and columns are intended to act as a teaching aid and inspiration to construction students. 

Ramboll’s structural engineers made extensive use of 3D modelling and analysis tools, collaborating and sharing models with the architect Bond Bryan, to design, refine and fully coordinate this complex structure.

Activity can be seen in every direction and at all levels within the atrium. Outside movement is still visible through the faceted curtain walling façade, with large aluminium box sections which maximise the expanse of glass. Ramboll façade engineers used high-performance vision glass throughout to allow high levels of natural light in whilst minimising solar gain and thermal losses. As the building is primarily mechanically ventilated – specified by our services engineers to allow the college full control of its environment – automatic opening louvres are also a key feature.

Ramboll Director Dave Grove comments: “We’re delighted to see the college’s vision come to fruition and are extremely proud of the part the Ramboll team, based in our Chester office, has played in achieving this.”

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