March 10, 2016

The new state-of-the-art University Technical College (UTC) at Harbourside recently opened, located within the historic setting of two existing listed buildings on the Railway Quays site in the heart of Newhaven, East Sussex, U.K.

Designed by the HKS London education team, UTC@Harbourside can accommodate up to 600 14- to 18-year-olds and will develop engineers for the future who have specialist skills and the environmental awareness needed to support the increasing role of renewable and marine technologies, such as wind farms and tidal energy generators.

“We are very proud to be part of this project,” said Alfonso Padro, RIBA, educational director, HKS London. “The new UTC@Harbourside will act as a catalyst for further economic and social regeneration of Newhaven, equipping the community with the skills and experience to take advantage of the opportunities presented by marine and environmental engineering within Newhaven and the wider district. The innovative UTC development reflects the scale and ambition of this investment through the regeneration of a key site in a prominent location within Newhaven, safeguarding and promoting Newhaven’s heritage through the retention and conversion of the Marine and Carpenters Workshops.”

″There were many site and planning constraints, the main one being to create teaching and administrative spaces over three additional floors, without compromising the structural and visual integrity of the listed facades, by creating new openings,” Padro added. “To avoid any potential damage, the building was designed as a shell inserted behind the existing retained facades, using structurally insulated panels (SIPS).”

In addition to the high-standard fabric specified, other passive design measures were adopted, including high-performing curtain walling, double-glazed windows and doors, and roof insulation. Active design measures included mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery, efficient lighting and high- performance gas boilers, which will provide space heating and hot water to the building.

The UTC is sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation, the University of Brighton, Veolia and Lewes District Council. Industry partners include a diverse range of companies, including Veolia and local Newhaven businesses. 

“The UTC@Harbourside Trust is immensely delighted to see the finalised building in full and effective use by its students and staff,” said Jon Ward, capital project director at Aldridge Foundation. “The site has become an icon of regeneration for the locality, and its long established heritage and prominence in the community has meant that we have collectively turned an area of decay into a beacon of commerce and education. The building itself, along with significant investment by the Department for Education, provides a learning environment that is second to none.  The emphasis upon access to river frontage, through our partnership with Lewes District Council and our other sponsors, University of Brighton and Veolia, has meant that we have a building and facility that truly engages the whole community. The school features an iconic learning environment that has embraced site heritage and opened access to the river for educational use as well.  This has been a collective team effort and a shared vision from all involved.” 

The co-sponsors and other businesses will have an active role in the day-to-day life of the UTC by supporting the delivery of curriculum through innovative and interactive learning modules, and providing student mentorship and opportunities for experiential learning in the workplace. The curriculum is designed to provide a balance between practical hands-on learning experiences in the workplace and specialist technology modules and a common curriculum. The teaching approach will be to integrate classroom work with an apprentice-style practical training, delivered in partnership with local sustainable engineering, manufacturing and consultancy businesses. 

The HKS Education Studio is a group of dedicated design professionals who deliver effective school solutions with exceptional care and service. The studio has completed projects for prominent school districts throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Ranked among the top five architectural/engineering firms by Building Design+Construction magazine, HKS works locally and regionally on education projects from 25 worldwide offices. For more information please contact Raluca Bunghez at

Posted in Education
Tagged Alfonso Padro, UTC@Harbourside