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Durham University News



Work starts on 16th College for University of Durham

(5 August 2004)

Work has started on the building of a new college for the University of Durham as part of a major development to expand student accommodation.

The University's £35.5 million building scheme will provide a total of 1,000 new student rooms in Durham by 2006.

Main contractors Laing O'Rourke have moved on to the site of the new self-catering college at Howlands off South Road, Durham.

As yet, Durham's 16th college for undergraduates does not have a name. The distinctive new buildings will occupy a prominent hillside location and the project also includes new postgraduate student housing for the adjacent Ustinov College.

An official ceremony to mark the start of the work on the first phase of the accommodation expansion plans will take place on the Howlands site at 11.30 a.m. on MONDAY 9th August 2004.

Professor Tim Burt, Dean of Colleges and Student Support, will cut the first sod. He said: "The start of work on the new 400-bed college is an exciting milestone in the development of the University. The new self-catering college will add a new dimension of choice to our student accommodation. The additional postgraduate units will also improve and increase our stock of modern residences."

Architects Gotch, Saunders & Surridge have created bold and sensitive designs to allow the new college buildings to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

Special features will be gently sloping green roofs covered with specially-selected slow-growing plants. The new buildings will be clad in bricks to reflect the rich colouring of the older buildings in the centre of the City of Durham.

In addition to the new college and additional postgraduate housing at the Howlands site, three old 1960s residential blocks at Parson's Field, off Old Elvet, will be demolished in a further phase of the accommodation building plans. This will provide new residential facilities for 200 postgraduate of the St Cuthbert's Society.

Media enquiries to: Tom Fennelly, Public Relations Officer, University of Durham. Tel 0191 3346078 or e-mail at:

Notes to Editors :

1. The University has expanded student numbers over the past 15 years in line with the policies of successive governments, and although it has already built about 1,000 extra rooms during the same period, the number of students who live out of college in rented housing has increased. The new building programme will ensure that the majority of Durham students will reside in University accommodation.

2. GSS are a Northamptonshire firm, which has been established for more than 125 years, and are specialists in the higher education sector with considerable design experience at universities, including projects for the Open University, Cranfield University, Oxford Brookes and University College, Northampton. Other current commissions are for halls of residence are at Oxford Brookes, University of West England and the University of Reading.

3. Laing O'Rourke is one of the UK�s largest construction companies and has had a major presence in the North East for 40 years.

4. Durham is a collegiate University. All Durham students join one of the 15 colleges and societies. Unlike Oxbridge colleges, Durham colleges are not teaching bodies and neither, unlike halls of residence, are they purely residential. The Durham college system ensures that students belong, from day one, to a small, tightly knit community; have the opportunity to live alongside a wide cross-section of people including undergraduates, postgraduates and staff; have access to many societies and opportunities to get involved ; have a college tutor who will take a personal interest in a student's academic progress and welfare.

5. The last college to be founded in Durham City was Collingwood in 1972. Two colleges (George Stephenson and John Snow) were created at the University's Queen's Campus, Stockton, in 2001.

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