Building great education environments

20th May 2022

Building Great Education Environments

ITC Project Director Darren King speaks to us about how his team help our education clients achieve their aim of providing the very best facilities for their students and staff.  With over 20 years’ experience working with Universities, Colleges and Schools, Darren has a great understanding of how to deliver new educational facilities, on-time, with minimum disruption, and with most impact.

Universities, Colleges and Schools have had a tough time over the last few years having to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning. How have you seen education requirements evolve?

DK:  There has been a noticeable shift from traditional teaching rooms to more flexible learning environments. We create new spaces for students to be able to meet and study together, in areas that are more inviting and engaging than traditional libraries and classrooms. We are enabling a variety of work-station arrangements, with state-of-the-art AV facilities and information technology that delivers improvements to everyday learning experience.

Flexibility is key in 2022, that goes for staff areas too. We recently completed an office fit-out at Kingston University, creating agile workspace for teaching staff, accessible communal spaces and gender-neutral facilities. The project focuses on people, processes, connectivity and technology to support more flexible working patterns.

ITC are currently undertaking a £6m project that will transform the entrance to Kingston College in South-West London. Our work includes provision of a magnificent double height glass clad extension, creating a real wow factor upon arrival. The re-modelled accommodation will provide an enhanced learning environment through the integration of key student-centred activities and support areas.

Your team are currently on site at East Surrey College and Croydon College building new T-Level facilities for their students. What makes these facilities different and what will these new types of spaces offer young people? 

DK: T Levels are a new vocational qualification that can help students into skilled employment, higher study, or apprenticeships. Designed in conjunction with businesses, T Level qualifications provide young people with a great opportunity to develop sought after workplace skills in top-class facilities with industry standard equipment.

ITC help colleges excel in creating outstanding facilities.  We can transform traditional educational spaces and replicate industrial environments. We build for commercial clients every day; we have the experience to create spaces fit for industry and the knowledge to adapt them for education settings.

We built the Clinical Simulation Centre at Croydon College in 2021 to NHS standards and the College were really pleased with the space, and I’m sure they will be similarly pleased with the next project.

The facilities we are building are practical spaces allowing students to gain real experience in specialist areas, including open learning areas which can be used for collaboration and group work.

What are the common challenges you come across working in education environments and how do you and your team overcome them?

DK: Schools, colleges and universities are busy places! It is commonplace for an education facility that embarks on a fit-out or refurbishment project to have areas that must remain functional throughout the works. Working in occupied areas is part of the challenge when delivering new facilities and at ITC we have extensive experience of doing so safely and harmoniously.

We engage with the client team and heads of departments from the outset. Our aim is to fully understand the client’s needs, including any key dates such as exam times or lectures, so that we can plan and deliver our construction programme with minimum disruption to day-to-day academic operations.

As an example, when building Kingston University’s STEM laboratories all noisy work was undertaken outside of operational hours when working above the university’s main lecture theatre.

How do you keep everyone safe when building works are taking place?  

Ensuring the well-being and safety of people is our first priority on all projects. Securing the site area is fundamental, especially when working in a walkway between teaching areas. Regular communication and dialogue with our client’s team is always important and particularly so when routes around the building change.

We provide suitable hoardings, signage and dust protection to keep all the building users safe. Movement of plant and materials in and out of the site are co-ordinated safely and effectively.

How does your team add value for our education clients?

DK: The education sector has important deadlines due to the nature of the academic calendar. They are non-movable dates!

Having worked in many differing education facilities, our experience in managing the programme and sequencing in conjunction with academic activities has proved critical to the success of our client’s project. It allows us to identify the key risks and areas of most importance to end users when carrying out our works, and ensures our clients get a smooth, on-time delivery.

An example of this is when we refurbished Aylesbury Vale’s nursing facilities and café at Bucks New University (BNU). BNU hoped to showcase their new facilities to prospective students at their next open day.  The effort and commitment of the ITC team meant the project was completed a week ahead of schedule to the delight of the client, who as a result was able to provide tours of the state-of-the-art simulation facilities, with this helping secure a considerable increase in student uptake!

What is your favourite education project and why?

There are so many to choose from, but Bucks New University’s Human Performance Centre stands out. This specialist fitness centre is one of only a few in the country to offer advanced facilities for top athletes and is equipped for assessing the function and performance of a wide range of human physiological, bio-mechanical and psychological parameters. Building a running track on the 3rd floor of a building was something I had not done before!

Your Next Education Project

ITC work with schools, colleges, universities and built environment professionals to unlock the potential of spaces and realise ambitions. Our aim is to provide your team with the very best. The best people, the best contractors, the best outcomes, and the best experience.

Within ITC we are fortunate to have a strong track record in the successful delivery of high-quality client solutions in a variety of education environments.  Recent types of work include:

Student social areas |Catering facilities | Student Union bars | Gyms & Fitness Suites | Classrooms | Theatres and lecture spaces | Computing | Specialist and bespoke facilities | Laboratories | Libraries | Event space |

If you are planning a refurbishment or fit-out project, get in touch with our team to discuss your requirements on 020 8296 1800 or email