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Students given an education at Leeds Arts Uni

They may have been delayed by 25 minutes, but the busload of students descending on ISG’s site at Leeds Arts University offers a welcome reminder of the interest Open Doors can generate.

Though made up entirely of students, the group is varied in terms of disciplines, featuring engineering, civils and surveying undergrads.

More encouraging still, the tour party is split almost equally between men and women.

ISG is building a five-storey extension to the campus of Leeds Arts University, which is a stone’s throw away from the city centre.  

Formerly Leeds College of Art, the extension is the biggest capital investment the institution has ever made and has allowed it to become the first specialist arts university in the North.

The £14m building will connect to the existing Blenheim Walk campus, adding 5,900 sq m of new campus space.

Working in very close proximity to residential homes is giving ISG some interesting challenges, as is having no onsite space beyond the area occupied by the building itself.

The site team explains how the limited amount of space means the contractor has to build its tower crane right into the building, with the crane’s red steel frame piercing through every floor and out through the roof.

And to compensate for the lack of natural light that will reach the lower floors, the team is building in glazed roofing through the centre of the extension.

This is having to be installed as the floors are erected, which means suspended temporary platforms have to be fitted to the roof so the cladding can be installed on the walls above the glazed areas.

The ongoing day-to-day problem-solving required both impresses and intrigues the students.

“I’m not sure I could solve these sorts of massive problems on a daily basis,” says one undergrad to a friend. “Would you rather do photocopying in an office all day?” comes the reply.

The exchanges provides a neat illustration of Open Doors can achieve by revealing the true face of construction. 

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