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South Essex College - Thurrock Campus

Grays, Essex

South Essex College, Thurrock Campus Perspective Sketch

Sector: Education, Master Planning
Client: South Essex College
Project value: £45,000,000
Project stage: Complete

Gibberd produced proposals to the former RIBA Stage C design for South Essex College’s new campus at Grays in Thurrock. The facility would replace the erstwhile Woodview Campus in Thurrock and locate the College in the heart of Grays town centre, putting it close to transport links and local amenities.

The campus, comprised of two buildings has enabled the college to offer a number of vocational courses alongside a varied academic offer and has created a much needed stimulus to the locality. The college has been designed to adhere to the South Grays master plan, but equally functions successfully as a stand-alone development.

Considered urban design was produced that would significantly improve the quality of the public realm and offer a sense of place which the town previously lacked. A quality public realm is as integral to the scheme as the accommodation provided. The ground floor layout includes the diagonal public thorough-fare, attached to which are the reception, display and waiting spaces. Further to this is the entrance to the multi-use space, together with access to a public restaurant, lifestyle salons and a gymnasium. These latter elements define the public interface to the High Street, the new piazza and New Road.

Consistent architectural treatment is used across the two buildings, with particular emphasis given to the West Building’s diagonal, the volume enclosing the multi use space and the entrance to the East Building. The buildings are light, articulated and contemporary, with subtle variations in cladding tone and colour, a contrast to the weighty appearance of the council offices opposite. The ground floor was designed with high levels of glazing interspersed with robust solid panels and blue brickwork. The diagonal volume has a contrasting cladding with high levels of glazing to both ends allowing the interior to be exposed to the public spaces each side. Interest and variation were introduced with detailing which sees colour populate the facades and penetrate the building interior.

The new campus has been a great success, aiding in the colleges growth with student uptake increasing significantly since its completion in 2014.