Somerset College’s Arts House project selects BAM for extensive works

BAM is to redevelop and refurbish the arts and design centre at Somerset College under a £7 million contract.

The project was procured as a two-stage traditional contract via the Construction Framework South West.

BAM, which has offices in Bristol and Exeter, will carry out extensive work on the existing 1970s Arts House on the college’s Taunton campus. Robin Snell and Partners are the architects.

The contractor will put a new roof and exterior glazing on the main four-storey arts building, as well as giving it new mechanical and electrical services.

An existing four-storey building will be given major structural works to open the areas up for exhibition and circulation and to improve the natural light in the space.

A new single-storey glulam structural framed extension will complete the quadrangle of buildings and provide new reprographic and theatre performance space.

Students will benefit from a more modern environment to study art and design while keeping the best parts of the existing facilities including the natural daylight that is so important.

The buildings will remain in use throughout the one-year construction project, with BAM carefully managing a staged decant of students.

The project is targeting a ‘Very Good’ rating under environmental initiative BREEAM, and will include photovoltaic cells and a biomass boiler.

Somerset College’s Arts House will be one of the schemes used to deliver opportunities for young people under BAM Western region’s status as a national skills academy for construction.

BAM will work with the college to provide training opportunities for existing students.

BAM construction director Craig Allen said:

“This project will bring the iconic Arts House at Somerset College into the 21st Century.

“We look forward to using all our skills and experience to create buildings students and staff can be proud of, while minimising disruption along the way.

“We will also work, as always, to ensure our work benefits the local environment and economy at construction phase as well as in end use.”

Somerset College Principal and Chief Executive Rachel Davies said:

“We’re delighted to have secured funding from the Skills Funding Agency and we have committed to funding the remainder required.

“It is a sign of our growing importance to Taunton and the wider region as a provider of first-rate Further and Higher Education with close links to commercial partners and a commitment to employability.

“With the Arts House project, we hope to build on our reputation, and equip even more people with excellent workplace skills and great prospects for the future.”

Work is due to start on site in July and be completed in time for the 2015/16 academic year.

BAM is currently building new facilities for Penrose School in Bridgwater, having completed projects at Robert Blake and Elmwood School as well as Chilton Trinity School, and it is the company behind the new Jubilee Building at Taunton Hospital. It also has offices in Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff.