Grainge Architects sensitively designed Student Accommodation

The success of Exeter University over the last decade has been hugely important to the economy of Exeter. The continued expansion of the campuses at both St Lukes and the main Streatham site has generated considerable additional students numbers. This growth has occurred despite the country generally suffering a deep recession, Exeter faring better than many cities.

The increase in students coming to the city has resulted in a need for additional student accommodation. Student Residences are the hot topic in the local press, barely a week going by without a headline featuring ‘More Student Accommodation planned for the City’.

Clearly a balance needs to be maintained whereby the general prosperity and quality of the city is not overwhelmed by student accommodation. The argument for providing affordable housing as an alternative to more student flats is often cited. Unfortunately current market forces dictate this is often not an option. The older properties throughout the city  – many Victorian or Edwardian – which have historically housed large numbers of students could convert back to family homes. Private landlords of these properties undertake just enough maintenance to get by year by year, and more recently students have begun to realise that cold, draughty accommodation with large energy bills is not desirable, preferring something more similar to the home environment they have left.

Our practice is undertaking a number of Student residences projects throughout the city, and the key component to a good design is about successful integration. The inner city communities who are most affected by purpose-build student housing need to be assured that all is being done to protect their amenity. Ensuring that residents and students can coexist is really important. Issues such as parking, refuse, noise are clearly just as important as the avoidance of dominating blocks of accommodation which are out of scale with their surroundings.

Our Bonhay Road scheme opposite St Davids Station has a very different  design solution to our scheme in Well Street, St James. Bonhay Road is much more grand in nature due to it’s location at a gateway to Exeter, opposite the railway station. Well Street in comparison takes great care not to have an overbearing presence on the surrounding residential properties. Other student schemes we are currently looking at include Paris Street & Longbrook Street. These individual sites will be subject to a detailed analysis of how we might successfully integrate residences with the established communities in these areas.

Grainge Student Housing

We will post further blogs as the schemes are developed.

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Pool Travelodge nearing completion

A quick update: One of our current hotel schemes is shaping up nicely now. The new Travelodge in Poole, a 125 bed, 5 storey development on the riverside is beginning to emerge from it’s shroud of scaffolding. A gym on the top floor and ground floor retail units completes the development.

The external façade is largely render and incorporates coloured panels of Rockpanel cladding. A steel frame, SFS walling and use of pod bathrooms has helped ensure a swift delivery.

From a design point of view the use of Archicad BIM has helped streamline the workflow within the office and across the design team.

We’re very much looking forward to the completion of the Travelodge which is due May 2016. Updates to follow.

Grainge Architects Travelodge Hotel



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CDM 2015 – our role as a Principal Designer

CDM 2015 seeks to remove the barriers to improvements in the construction industry set up at the beginning of projects.

For example, H&S policies, pre-qualification questionnaires and competence schemes can all provide an illusion of safety but in fact burden designers, construction managers and site operatives with increased paperwork in an attempt to demonstrate compliance without necessarily bringing improvements.

CDM 2015 seeks to remove the bureaucracy and promote a ‘proportional approach’ with a requirement for appropriate skill, knowledge and experience. The objectives of CDM 2007 have been generally retained but made less complicated and more accessible.

The most significant change is the removal of the CDM-C role and the introduction of the Principal Designer. This is to give responsibility for CDM during the design phase to an individual who has the ability to influence the design. CDM Advisors are no longer required under CDM 2015.

The Principal Designer must be a designer on the project and must be appointed in writing by the Client. The Principal Designer must be in a position where they can influence and control the design and planning stages. If the Client does not appoint a Principal Designer or Principal Contractor then the Client assumes the role. In addition:

  • Principal Designers must have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the management of both the technical and H&S requirements through the design process. Their role is to plan, manage and monitor the coordination of the pre-construction phase, including any preparatory work carried out for the project.
  • The Principal Designer must advise Client of their CDM duties & to manage their expectations.
  • The Principal Designer must help and advise the client in bringing together pre-construction information and provide the information designers and contractors need to carry out their duties;
  • If the Principal Designer’s appointment takes them to a certain stage (e.g. planning only), it is important to advise the Client in writing of termination of their CDM responsibilities up to that stage & to make them aware of any continuing responsibilities they may have.
  • It is the Clients duty to raise the F10. Where client’s are unable to do so, the Principal Designer can issue the F10 on their behalf.
  • The Principal Designer must focus on getting right information to the right people at the right time. They must ensure that everyone involved in the pre-construction phase communicates and cooperates, coordinating their work wherever required and ensure that designers comply with their duties;
  • Principal Designer must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate H&S in the preconstruction phase;
  • As far as is reasonably practicable, the Principal Designer must identify, eliminate or control foreseeable risk through collaborative work with any other designers on the project.
  • Once identified, the Principal Designer must manage the risks and ensure that the design team eliminate the risks associated with design elements wherever practicable. If this is not practicable (e.g. planning restrictions, specific actions, disproportionate costs or aesthetics) efforts must be made to reduce any remaining risks; or control them, to an acceptable level. This relies on exercising professional judgement in considering how the risks can be managed.
  • The Principal Designer must liaise with the Principal Contractor in keeping them informed of any risks that need to be controlled during the construction phase.

Domestic Projects

CDM 2007 exempted domestic clients from most CDM obligations. The CDM 2015 removes this exemption and transfers the client’s obligations to the contractor or principal contractor. Domestic clients can choose to have a written agreement with the PD to carry out the clients’ duties.

Pre-Construction Information

Where ‘significant risks’ are identified – keep brief and to the point. Best way to get a message across on site is to annotate the drawings with any H&S-related items. Operators on site aren’t always going to keep returning to the files.

Pre Construction H&S Phase Plan

The plan should not be cluttered with documents (e.g. generic risk assessments, records of how decisions were reached, detailed safety method statements) that get in the way of a clear understanding of what is needed to manage the construction phase. Ask the PC what their Emergency Procedures are – not always thought through.

H&S File

Keep simple. The Principal Designer is required to manage the process. The Principal Contractor can compile the File as they would normally with reference made to O&M manuals. They are primarily for the purpose of planning future construction from a H&S perspective (e.g. identifying residual risks).

It is not the Principal Designer’s responsibility to: (but may wish to offer any of the following as additional services)

  • Submit the F10 notification to the HSE or check that the client has done so;
  • Check the skills and experience of the designers or contractors unless the Principal Designer is appointing them directly;
  • Advise the client on their appointment of designers and contractor, including their skills and experience;
  • Advise the client on their H&S arrangements for the project, including welfare facilities;
  • Review or approve the construction phase plan or check that it has been implemented;
  • Review or approve H&S arrangements on site, including method statements;
  • Take on overall responsibility for the project – the Principal Designer’s role is only to manage H&S during the pre-construction phase;
  • Supervise or monitor H&S on site – this is the responsibility of the Principal Contractor;
  • Check or approve designers other than when reviewing H&S risks.


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Grainge Architects – Christmas Update

2015 was a really good year for Grainge Architects; in fact our best ever in terms of new commissions & project successes. Judging by the number of live projects the practice was involved with, the recession is now only a memory. Exeter particularly faired better than many cities over the last few years & our practice has mirrored this good fortune.

Our team continues to grow from strength to strength and as such we are looking forward to two new staff members joining us in January.

Workload for early 2016 includes much educational work, housing, masterplanning & excitingly several high profile competitions.

Recent individual project successes include gaining planning approval for a significant student accommodation development opposite St David’s Station, gaining outline approval for 800+ homes at Mosshayne Tithebarn Green Exeter. Preparing planning applications for new primary schools in Exeter, South Molton & Tiverton. Masterplanning work for numerous large sites including St Agnes, Tavistock, Barnstaple & circa 1200 new homes near Bridgewater.

Major Projects currently under construction include Dartmouth Swimming Pool, Penryn Sports Centre & Nursery, Seabrook Orchards housing development Topsham & Matford Green Nursery Exeter. As well as the larger schemes we continue to relish the opportunity to design Individual houses – interesting examples currently in construction include two fabulous properties on the Exe, Four hilltop homes with sea views in Shaldon, & an individual 9000ft home in Coffinswell.

We have also designed several ecclesiastical buildings this year with projects completed in Teignmouth and Sherbourne as well as a new extension to a church currently on site in Bridport.

Our commitment & enthusiasm to producing good design, being realistic about budgetary constraints & caring passionately about every project we undertake is without doubt central to our successes this year.

We wish all our clients, fellow professionals, contractors & friends a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Grainge Architects Gingerbread Office

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Grainge Architects Celebrate 25 years!

25 years is a significant milestone for the practice. A quarter of a century of helping our clients achieve their aspirations has been a very rewarding journey. Over the years our central philosophy of developing a clear brief, producing effective imaginative solutions and being ever mindful of our client’s budgets has ensured our ongoing success.

Architects as a profession are sometimes criticised for their ivory tower stance – our practice pride itself on promoting the antithesis of this belief. For Grainge Architects, every project remains different, we believe our varied portfolio of completed projects with no apparent house style is evidence of our ability to satisfy our clients diverse requirements.

Working across a broad spectrum of building types and user groups has given the team at Grainge Architects a thorough knowledge of what’s going on out there. Cross pollination of ideas gained in one area helps inform another. Practicing primarily in the West Country we have developed a strong sense of context. We have also learnt to work within the constraints & opportunities of the local economy.

Our diverse portfolio ranging from private houses to universities or new town masterplans shows how through our own success we have grown with that of the South West Region. Our clients ranging from Government bodies to private individuals and businesses value our commitment to producing good design whilst achieving both value for money and surpassing expectations. Our hope is that the practice will continue to develop and prosper over the next 25 years as we are fortunate to have an immensely talented team who are committed to the practice. The following illustrations show a brief selection of some of our more memorable projects from over the last 25 years.

25 Year Images

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Grainge Architects Website Update

With the continuing variety of projects and increasing workload across the spectrum of different construction sectors we felt that it was time to update our website. Our growing portfolio in a wide range of project sectors is now better represented.

The education sector has historically been a cornerstone of the office and it seemed appropriate to differentiate Primary and Secondary schools, from Further Education. With the ongoing work at Exeter University and Plymouth University in particular, we felt the old website was under-playing the importance and experience accumulated in this area within the practice.

The website update also provided an ideal opportunity to promote our role within the Sports Sector which had until now been largely overlooked due to space constraints of the old website. On top of this the sustained growth of the commercial and Industrial buildings made it inevitable that these would deserve sectors in their own right. Particular recent and ongoing successes having been the Livestock Markets, Industrial Units and Hotels, which is an encouraging indicator for the economy here in Exeter and the South West.

The website rework, also gave the opportunity to update housing which is such a strong sector in Devon & Cornwall at the moment. We now work for many regional & national house builders and developers, with our housing schemes ranging from small bespoke developments to several schemes of 800+ units. These schemes can now been seen within the housing and master planning sectors, illustrating the breadth of scale and variety of the growth we’re seeing at the moment.

Grainge Architects photos

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The Longhouse, New Dwelling at Trecarne.

This new home designed by Grainge Architects, has recently been completed by Bovey Construction. The ‘Longhouse’ in Launceston responded to the client’s desire for a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Cornish building form.

This bold building on a prominent site references the local vernacular with a strong form and natural slate hanging. Set within the garden of Trecarne, a substantial Edwardian home, the steeply sloping site is enclosed on all sides by large trees and mature vegetation offering privacy, while the siting in the wider context affords distance views over the town and to the surrounding countryside. Part of the intention for the design was to create a strong relationship between the interior and the natural, wilderness of the heavily vegetated site, with large areas of full height glazing allowing a visual connection with the garden. These also took advantage of the more distant aspects.

Grainge Architects became involved in the scheme following the refusal of a previous planning application by another designer. The site was unlocked following a pre-application dialogue with the planning authority to establish the appropriate development constraints for the site. The design was progressed in response to specific site opportunities identified as part of a rigorous contextual analysis.

This 4 bedroom family home has a strong environmental focus, incorporating a number of sustainable technologies including solar thermal and photo-voltaic panels, and utilising the heat output of a Rayburn in the heart of the living space to supplement the heating system. The building is orientated to make best use of the site’s aspect and location whilst the building’s form is derived from the traditional Cornish vernacular which is by nature a sustainable and inherently efficient plan form. The final result being a modern and welcoming family home in an idyllic setting.

Grainge Architects - Longhouse Trecarne

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Penryn SERSF Laboratories

Grainge Architects have worked closely with contractor Midas Construction in the detail design and delivery of the University of Exeter Business School’s new £5.5m SERSF building at Penryn Campus, Cornwall.

The Science and Engineering Research Support Facility (SERSF) provides a base for the Universities Business School and includes flexible workspaces and purpose built laboratories for offshore renewables and biosciences enabling expansion of the research facilities of the Marine Renewables team and the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC). This fast growing sector of learning is at the forefront of Exeter University’s investment at the Penryn Campus that it jointly manages with Falmouth University. The SERSF building enables vital engagement with local businesses, sharing the benefits of the joint expertise in business, marine renewables, as well as ecology and conservation with communities, businesses and groups across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The investment helps increase the regions already prestigious standing in these sectors helping to strengthen breadth and depth of research and teaching facilities available.

Following planning approval gained by another designer, Grainge Architects were then appointed and along with the design team of Hydrock who were responsible for structures and Method Consulting LLP who were responsible for M&E, undertook detail design to ensure the scheme was delivered on time and in budget.

The 1200m2 of new build is arranged over two-storeys and is in itself designed to a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating emphasising the environmental credentials of the buildings ‘Green’ ethos through it’s design. The current build is the first phase of the project with further extensions in the pipeline. Situated prominently next to the Daphne du Maurier building and the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) a well as the Tremough Innovation Centre (TIC) reinforces the critical mass of related learning located on the Penryn Campus.

The SERSF building has been funded via a mixture of investment, including £3.9m from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £1.6m from the University of Exeter.

Grainge Architects SERSF

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Michelmores Property Awards Nominations 2015

2014 was Grainge Architects most successful year ever in terms of commissions & successfully completed projects. Therefore it comes as no surprise to us that we have been shortlisted in multiple categories in this years Michelmores Property Awards.

The buildings that we have helped deliver across the region cover a wide variety of sectors, budgets & architectural solutions. Unsurprisingly our clients differing requirements have involved us developing highly bespoke services which have lead to differing methods of project procurement. Clearly many of our buildings involve working from project inception through to completion on the basis of traditional buiding contract arrangements. Other schemes involve taking the initial work of another architectural practice through the design development stages and on to completion. As procurement routes have changed over the years, client organisations wishing to offload the cost risk associated with their projects, negotiate Design & Build Contracts. The Contractor then uses his own team to deliver the project, often with the concept architect retaining an executive architect role for the client. Our role in these situations is to assist the contractors in delivering the employers requirements.

Our Projects in this years Michelmores Awards have been delivered via a combination of these differing roles as follows:

Holsworthy AgriBusiness Centre – (Commercial Project of the year over £5m)

Torridge District Council appointed Grainge Architects to develop the design, obtain planning permission & develop the employers requirements information. Morgan Sindell (Contractor) appoint their own architect Trewin Deign Partnership to develop Contractors Proposals. We were retained by the client to act as Executive Architect.

‘The House’, Plymouth University – (Commercial Project of the year under £5m and also nominated for Building of the Year)

Plymouth University appointed Burwell Deakins Architects to initially develop the design, Grainge Architects & Burwell Deakins jointly develop the planning application. Grainge Architects then developed the detailed design & acted as Midas Construction’s (Contractor) architect during the site stage Burwell Deacons were retained as Plymouth Universities Executive Architect.

Church of Our Lady & St Patrick, Teignmouth – (Heritage Project of the Year)

The Diocese of Plymouth appointed Grainge Architects for the commission on the basis of a traditional appointment for all RIBA work stages.

St Agnes Island Hall, Isles of Scilly – (Eco Project of the Year)

The Council for the Isles of Scilly appointed Poyton Bradbury Cole to develop the design & develop the employers requirements information. Grainge architects were appointed as Dawnus Construction’s, architect to develop the Contractors Proposals & deliver a buildable & affordable scheme that was seen through to completion on site.

Grainge Architects Michelmores Awards 2015

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Seabrook School Development

Grainge Architects latest new school project has been submitted for planning approval to Exeter City Council on behalf of the Exeter Diocese.

The proposed Church of England Voluntary Aided primary school is located within Grainge Architect’s Seabrook Orchards Housing Development which borders Topsham. The site is next-door to the former Royal Navy Supply Depot, now Persimmon’s Greenacres site. It will provide two form entry with a total capacity of 420 pupils across seven year groups with 30 pupils per class. The school will also include a nursery accommodating 26 full time equivalent three to four-year olds & eight two-year olds.

The school is expected to be operational by September 2016 & will be the first element of the proposed Seabrook Square which will form the heart of the Newcourt Development Area.

An opportunity has been created for a combined community focus, based around the school. Ultimately a community hall, doctors surgery, retail outlet, & cafe will all combine around the central Seabrook Square and this along with the pedestrian routes, cycleways & connections within the adjoining Newcourt Development will ensure that the Seabrook Square remains the central focus of the area.

The main school hall will face directly onto the square enlivening the space. Dropping off children in the morning & picking them up in the evening will establish the square as a lively busy place when combined with the other proposed uses. The building itself is designed to be welcoming to children, staff parents & the local community. The clients brief was to design the school to be a physical demonstration of the Christian love & respect that aims to be at the heart of every church school.

Grainge Architects Seabrook Orchard

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