University of Sussex

Completed in Dec 2020, this 4-year student accommodation project in Brighton was a substantial undertaking.


Completed in Dec 2020, this 4-year student accommodation project in Brighton was a substantial undertaking. Consisting of 27 individual student accommodation buildings, this privately funded development was done as a phased-release project, with each phase consisting of a group of building blocks.

Done as a completely new development, with no pre-existing buildings to refurbish, the programme on this project was easy for all teams involved to manage and the construction of the buildings progressed much more quickly than originally anticipated. The swift construction of the building blocks was all down to the modular construction process on this build. All the floors and walls were prefabricated and stored until the foundations had been laid, at which point they were immediately transported to the worksite and craned off into locations. This efficient, resourceful approach meant that 4-storey buildings could be erected in little more than 4 weeks.

As the build was progressing so quickly, we had to ensure that the AOVs we were installing on the external faces and roofs of the buildings were always available whenever they were needed so we weren’t holding up other works; the buildings needed to be weathered quickly.

On this project we had 132 Coltlite Natural Louvred Ventilators. Ordinarily, these would be manufactured in Germany at the Colt factory and then shipped to the worksite when needed. However, the usual lead time for these to be produced and shipped from Germany is 6-8 weeks, which was obviously not ideal for a fast-moving, changeable project like this one.

To overcome any potential timing issues, we took the decision to manufacture all 132 Coltlites at the same time at the start of the project and store them in our factory in Havant. This meant we had the ability to be fast-moving and more fluid in our approach to provide the systems exactly when they were needed.

This not only enabled us to move very quickly when supplying the vents, but also when we had to push things back, as required. This approach helped to speed up the entire build and install process for not only Colt, but for other trades as well as there was never any lag time when it came to installing the AOVs.

Another benefit to the client of organizing our manufacturing and install process this way was in reducing costs. As this project had a lifespan of 4 years, getting all the vents produced at the same time meant we could ensure material and delivery costs remained stable throughout the project.

As mentioned previously, the student accommodation on this project consisted of 27 individual buildings, each requiring smoke control and ventilation for common areas such as corridors to stop overheating. Mainly separated into townhouses and cluster flats, there were slight variations between the buildings due to individual layout changes. However, to provide smoke control in the townhouses, we predominantly provided AXS140 hatches, along with individual, standalone stairwell protection systems. Coltlites were predominantly installed at the end of corridors in the cluster flats to provide smoke ventilation, with a shaft system in a central location for dampers and grilles.

With 70 AXS140 hatches required on this project, it was the largest order of AXS140 hatches Colt has ever taken. Manufactured in our UK factory, the AXS140 has been gaining popularity over the last few years and is currently the second most common AOV we supply due to the fact that it can be a combined-use element as a head of stair/stairwell vent that can also become a maintenance access hatch for the roof.