The Tower, City of Portsmouth College

Highbury Campus

The Tower is a mixed used building comprising of a nursery, education facilities and student accommodation.

Location: Portsmouth

Client: Highbury College / City of Portsmouth College

Project Value: £4m

Specialisation: Tower block refurbishment

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your Team for your expertise and collaborative approach to the work in respect of the replacement cladding for the Tower at Highbury College [now part of the City of Portsmouth College]. It has been a pleasure to see the progress of this project and hear how everybody has worked together as a team to make the Tower safe for all the staff, students and children who benefit from its facilities. I am particularly grateful to you for your flexibility and the speed with which the work on classrooms has been completed enabling us to maintain social distancing as part of Covid precautions.”

– Penny Wycherley, Interim Principal & Chief Executive, City of Portsmouth College

We were appointed as Architects to review the existing building as part of a multi-disciplinary team including our sister company Keegans and propose design solutions to safely remove all combustible cladding materials from the façade and replace with a compliant system. The tower was clad in ACM combustible cladding which needed to be removed to make fire safe and compliant with current regulations.

During our investigations it transpired that the windows did not meet current thermal requirements and would need to be replaced alongside the façade system. This opened-up the opportunity for redesigning the tower. The clients brief was to simplify the building whilst making it a focal point of the college campus and the surrounding area. After exploring a few options, we settled on a design within which the cladding fades from blue at the bottom through to white at the top. This makes the building feel less dominating in the local area, but also makes a feature of it from the dual carriageway adjacent to the site.

When the project went to site, we were novated to the contractor’s (D+B Facades) team to carry out architectural and BIM consultancy services. As part of the stage 4 information, a programme was drawn up to allow the building to remain in use throughout the works on site. The impact of this was to revise the details to allow for new windows to be installed in front of the existing ones and then removed from the inside, this kept the building weathertight throughout the build.

The role of the BIM Consultant on the project was to assist in developing the clients BIM information requirements and to ensure the smooth flow of information through the common data environment between all parties. Our BIM Information Manager worked alongside the client to understand and establish the information they were after and how they wanted to manage the approval processes. Workflows were created for the approval of information by the team to ensure the client had full visibility to what was being uploaded. BIM Monthly reports and meetings were held to review how the process was working, and held training sessions with the client and project team on BIM to ensure they had a wider understanding of the process involved, along with sessions to navigate around the common data environment proficiently to meet the need of information to be stored in an orderly fashion to handover to the client for ease of use.

Currently completing on site, the new panels present the tower in gradient of blue to grey modernizing the building with a more contemporary skin which is student cool, more comfortable, energy efficient and fire safe.


Photography courtesy of Doherty Associates (


Similar Projects