Our Projects

Digital and Data Centre – Exeter College

Project Overview

The new Digital and Data Centre forms part of the wider South West Institute of Technology (SWIOT) plans to revolutionise digital, engineering and manufacturing technology. The new building provides education opportunities in the digital sector, including courses around data analytics, cyber security and software development.

This nationally significant and prestigious digital learning centre is located on the college’s Hele Road Campus in the heart of the city. It interfaces seamlessly with the existing ‘Hele Building’ which is situated within a conservation area, near an ancient monument and listed buildings.

Comprising a steel frame with precast planks, the building feature a lecture theatre, triple height atrium space and feature staircase. The fa├žade is clad in ceramic rainscreen to mirror and enhance the local architecture. The principal elevation consists of curtain walling, with bronze brise soleil providing passive shading.

Our role

Clarkebond were engaged from the project outset to completion and handover. We provided transport planning, geotechnical and flood risk services to support the planning application. We also provided civil and structural services, collaborating closely with the entire design team on coordinated BIM models to accurately detail the building’s complicated geometry.

Peninsula Projects appointed us directly, after having previously worked for them on other successful projects. The appointment was arranged through the SBS Framework and we were subsequently novated to the contractor.

Challenges and solutions

Constructing this new build extension presented various challenges, including:

  • Constrained site on a live campus required careful logistics planning and coordination
  • Interfacing services and foundations between the existing and new buildings
  • Unknown features uncovered during site excavation
  • Complex steelwork and connection stubs


The new centre required careful co-ordination and complex interfaces between the existing and new building. We detailed complicated new foundations that were constructed in and around the existing with varying concrete levels and co-ordinated with below ground services and drainage.

We detailed complicated and intricate steel connections back to the existing building. These were detailed in a way that allowed the small and manageable stubs to be fixed to the existing frame before the new much longer members were then installed with the main new frame.

Added Value

Our team were consistent throughout the entirety of the project, this meant we were able to build and develop excellent relationships with the client, team and contractor which has directly led to further work on smaller projects for the college.

Our constant involvement provided benefits to the project. Having been part of the entire process and understanding how the development evolved, we were able to provide rapid solutions to any issues that arose.

Awards and Testimonials

  • Constructing Excellence South West Awards: Client of the year 2021.
  • Michelmores Awards: Educating Project of the year 2021

For further details:

AWW – Designing for the future of digital education

Willmott Dixon – Supporting the next generation of digital skills

Photos by Willmott Dixon

Project Facts

  • Clarkebond were involved in the project from RIBA Stage 2 through to completion
  • The project was completed in Summer 2021, ready for the new educational year
  • The project targeted and achieved an Excellent BREEAM rating. Our designs focussed on minimising the material use, steel weight and concrete volumes required
  • The Centre houses digital learning laboratories, state-of-the-art IT suites and interactive seminar spaces, providing learners with access to cutting edge technology