Key contacts

Estates Project Manager

Mark John, BSc (Hons) MRICS

Engineering 2020 Programme Manager

Toby Giles


Summer 2019 - work starts

Dec 2021 - completion

Refurbishment/equipment - £6.5m
Essential maintenance - £13.5m

Harrison – Engineering 2020 and essential maintenance work

Drop in session

A drop in session for colleagues will be held on Monday 17 June in the Harrison Loading Bay between 2-3pm. This is an opportunity to ask questions about the internal scaffold locations, access to workshop areas and the overall project. A separate drop in session will be held once decant arrangements are finalised.

Key points for W/C 17 June

A pre-work cleaning process of high level building services begins on Monday. This will take place outside usual working hours (6pm – 4am) and will not cause any disruption to services during the day. Access to the loading bay will be restricted whilst the cleaning is in progress.

The footpath leading from car parks A and B will be diverted from Monday. Alternative routes will be clearly signposted.

W/C 24 June

Erection of external scaffolding begins. This will result in an increase of vehicle movement – approx. two deliveries per day – this will be carefully managed by the contractor.

Parking spaces in the front of the Kay building will not be accessible from Monday 24 June. This will be for the duration of the project. The two accessible parking spaces will be relocated adjacent to the steps leading to the Innovation Centre.

The project team have been working closely with Heads of Discipline and the appointed contractors to develop a more detailed plan for the work that will take place this year. As follows:

Site setup and contractors compound
Contractor site set up has begun this week. Their compounds are located in the car park to the east of Harrison and immediately in front of the Kay building which will result in the loss of 15 parking spaces and relocation of the two accessible spaces. Construction of the compound in front of the Kay building requires some excavation work which will be completed later this week.
A diversion is also being put in place for the footpath leading from Harrison to car parks A and B. This will be diverted along the north and west sides of the building (between Harrison and Laver).

Night time pre-cleaning
A pre-clean of all building services at high level above the delivery bay and engineering workshops will be carried out between 17 June – 3 July. This work will start at 5pm each evening and access through the delivery bay and workshops will be restricted whilst these works are in progress.

Scaffolding and access within the building
The erection of external scaffolding will commence along the east elevation of the building on 24 June and will continue along the rear and west elevations during July.

Internally scaffolding will be erected in the double height workshop area from 16 July – 21 August. For the safety of all building users, access to the above areas will be restricted during this time unless pre-arranged with the project team, or escorted by the contractor. Access routes to the stores and other areas will be diverted and clearly signposted. The process for receiving deliveries and requesting access will be shared as we approach this date.

Two scaffold towers will also be erected in Room 220 from 16 July – 29 July. These will be in place for the duration of the project. Alternative work space will be provided for those effected whilst these towers are erected. The team are currently finalising the details of this.

Decant arrangements
The project team are working with colleagues to develop a detailed decant plan. This is likely to include moves into temporary accommodation at the rear of the Physics building or to the Innovation Centre. The team is meeting with champions from Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science on the 19 June to discuss the proposed arrangements. As soon as the project team have finalised the decant details, everyone that is required to move will be contacted. 

Main timeline for 2019:

  • 10 Jun – 5 Jul Contractor site set-up, diversions/modifications to external footpaths
  • 24 Jun – 5 Jul External scaffolding erected along east elevation
  • 6 – 13 Jul External scaffolding erected along north elevation
  • 16 Jul – 21 Aug Internal scaffolding erected within double height workshops (above vehicle access doors, Electronic Clean Rooms 131A/B, Nano Engineering Labs 130 A/B and the VES Structures Lab)
  • 22 – 27 Jul External scaffolding erected along west elevation
  • w/c 2 Sept Relocate U/G Study Room to Resource Centre, Yellow Computer Suite to U/G Study Room and Exeter IT office/workshop
  • From 9 Sept Decant initial offices affected by the works (offices 271-288)
  • 9 – 22 Oct Internal scaffolding erected within offices

Detailed planning is underway for the 2020-2021. This will be shared once plans are confirmed.

The University continues to invest in existing and new teaching and research facilities to enhance the experience of our students at Exeter. As part of this investment, a £6.5m programme of improvement work was approved by Council in October. Alongside a £13.5m programme of essential maintenance work within the Harrison building this will support the delivery of engineering education and ensure that our students have access to the best possible facilities during their time at the University.

This programme of work will focus on two areas:

1. Improvements to workshop space, facilities and equipment to support a new Engineering curriculum (Engineering 2020).

This will include a refurbishment and remodelling of laboratory and workshop space, new project and storage space and the purchase of new and replacement equipment. Specifically this includes:

  • New student project-based learning space
  • Creation of composite materials, clean structures and geotechnics labs and teaching facilities
  • Relocation and extension of the fab lab
  • Refurbishment and modernisation of electronics labs
  • Optimisation of fluids lab to create flexibility and adaptable teaching and storage space
  • Creation of a vehicle assembly area
  • Relocation of computer suites to the Innovation Centre

These improvements will support the delivery of a redesigned Engineering curriculum by 2020.

2. Essential maintenance in the North Block of the Harrison building

This will involve replacement of the North Block roof, the removal of asbestos in this part of the building and the replacement of services including heating, ventilation and lighting.

Together, these two areas of work will deliver space within the building to provide a dynamic, flexible and responsive curriculum to our students, in a safe, modern environment where practical engineering and creativity will be at the centre of our student experience.


Work will begin in late June 2019 and will take place over three years, concluding in December 2021.

A detailed schedule of work will be available on this website as planning for the project progresses.

What does this mean for colleagues and students?

Whilst this work is on-going, users of the building will experience some disruption. Some staff and students will need to move from their offices and teaching space to an alternative location for an estimated period of 15 months so that this work can be carried out safely and efficiently. Some staff may be required to relocate for a longer period depending on their current location in the building.

The process of moving from offices and other spaces will be managed carefully with colleagues and students kept informed of how and when they will be impacted. Options for decant accommodation are currently being explored - this will include offices, meeting rooms and work space, and is likely to comprise the following:

  • existing space within the Innovation Centre
  • use of the temporary accommodation currently located within the Physics car park (portable cabins)
  • additional temporary accommodation within the Harrison/Kay car parks to accommodate project space.

Parking within the Physics and Harrison car parks will be unavailable for the duration of the project.

Safeguarding research and teaching

We recognise the importance of safeguarding the research activity and teaching which takes place in Harrison and we will be investigating options to keep disruption to a minimum.

Preserving the student experience for those studying in Harrison is a priority and the project team will work closely with the Students’ Guild to ensure this takes place. In addition, the team will work with the external contractor to explore opportunities throughout the project for engineering students to enhance their learning with site visits and project planning where possible.

Alongside this, the health and safety of colleagues, students and visitors to the buildings will be at the forefront of all planning activity.

The project team will be holding a drop in session within the Harrison Loading Bay between 2-3pm on Monday 17 June. This is an opportunity for colleagues to ask questions about the internal scaffolding locations, access to workshop areas, and the overall project. Please do come along. An additional drop in session will take place once decant arrangements have been finalised.

In addition, a fortnightly update for colleagues will begin from the end of this week. This update will provide a brief summary of the work planned for the next 2-3 weeks, any potential disruption to building users and the mitigation for this. The summary will also be placed on the website. Please do check this information regularly as this will be our primary method of letting you know what’s happening each week. By using this process, we hope to mitigate the impact on teaching and research as much as possible, allowing colleagues to plan their week and also raise any issues they envisage for that week at an earlier stage.

In preparation for work to begin, we have also identified a representative from each discipline to act as ‘champions’ regarding the decant process for this project. These champions will feedback any concerns or questions you may have throughout the process of planning and preparing to relocate offices, workshops and teaching space, to the project group to ensure that any issues can be resolved quickly.

Please contact your champion if there is anything you wish to raise:

  • Jonathan Fieldsend – Compute Science
  • Barrie Cooper – Maths
  • Ion Sucala – Engineering

If you have any questions about the project, please contact the Project Manager, Mark John

The Estate Services team are working closely with colleagues in CEMPS to ensure the project runs smoothly and the impact of the work is managed carefully and considerately.

Work will be undertaken by a specialist third party contractor and their sub-contractors, and as part of the tender process, there will be clear restrictions and constraints on methods of construction, including hours or work, to ensure the disruption to building users is limited.

If you have any immediate questions, please email Project Manager, Mark John