Building knowledge: a university relationship


We’re well known for our expertise in educational projects, and nowhere shows this better than our collaborative relationship with the University of Leeds.

We’ve been working together for almost a decade, and throughout 2023 we completed several different projects with the University, including revamping a state-of-the-art sports space, remodelling an IT suite, refurbishing part of the social sciences building and replacing infrastructure at student accommodation, showcasing our team’s versatility.

Project 1: Making sports facilities fit for purpose
Cromer Terrace Fitness Studio is a dynamic, multi-purpose studio in the heart of the University of Leeds student campus. As well as fitness and exercise classes, it also provides flexible spaces for student societies and organisations to use. In early 2023 the University wanted to upgrade it to make it into a modern, state-of-the-art home for the University’s sports clubs and performance athletes.

The studio was already a fitness studio, but the refurbishment provided a new strength and conditioning floor, alongside physio and massage therapy facilities which will allow specialist staff to provide new levels of performance sport to top level athletes. It can also be used as an academic teaching space, allowing the University to grow its teaching and research agenda with partners across the city.
Work included:
• An uplift of the main hall flooring
• Installation of new gym equipment and machinery
• Revamped lobby
• Refurbished office areas
• Modern lighting

The aim was to create a more vibrant and invigorating environment for student athletes, creating a high quality strength and conditioning space to improve both sports performance and teaching.
The top of their game
The build had its challenges, with the concrete pour in the main hall proving particularly complex. The sheer size of the space meant it was not a simple task to ensure consistent pouring and proper levelling, and limited access points made it challenging to transport the concrete to the gym. The Sewell Construction team ensured they created a detailed plan for the concrete pour, assessing the environment and implementing strict quality control measures throughout, including adjusting the mix strength to ensure durability and workability to get the finish required. The finished facility gives the University of Leeds a fantastic opportunity to develop and attract sportspeople who are at the top of their game.

Project 2: Remodelling a tech space

The EC Stoner building is one of the largest buildings on the University of Leeds’ campus, and is home to the School of Computing, amongst other departments.
The University needed a larger IT teaching space, and asked us to remodel three smaller rooms into one large room.

Work included

  • Removal of old redundant M&E services and replacement with new, which had to integrate with the client’s internal building management system
  • Removal of two walls to create the larger space
  • New floor finishes
  • New boxings and skirtings to make the space look attractive
  • Creation and installation of an accessible bathroom
  • New doors
  • Installation of a new teaching wall

Work was taking place inside a functional university building, so the team had to ensure that students and staff were not disrupted by the works, and that the safety of those in the building was a priority at all times.

The results

The newly created IT space gave the University more flexibility when looking at options for teaching, as well as ensuring students have all the latest technology available to them.

“I was particularly impressed by your excellent site management and organisational skills, the way you were client focused and willing to go the extra mile, and your ability to communicate at all levels. I felt very comfortable in your ability to manage critical operations.”

Tony Peace, Estates Services, University of Leeds

Project 3: Creating a warm welcome

First impressions always count, and the University wanted to ensure the offices of their Social Sciences building were welcoming to visitors, as well as being a great environment for staff to work in. They asked Sewell Construction to do a full refurbishment of an existing office, not only improving the office but also creating a new reception area and kitchen.

Works included:

  •  Strip out of carpet tiles, furnishings, ceiling tiles and grid
  • Strip out of electrics back to the mains board
  • Removal of all existing mechanical heating and duct work from the main room
  • New reception area, including ceiling tiles, grid and floor finishes
  • New reception desk with hearing loop and panic alarm
  • Small seating area
  • Installation of new air conditioning and fresh air ductwork
  • New ceiling grid and tiles
  • New electrical and data sockets
  • New glass pods to create separate office space and meeting room
  • Strip out of an existing storeroom, to turn it into a kitchen
  • Installation of kitchen, including splashbacks and new floor finishes
  • New energy efficient lighting, including dimmer switches and passive infrared (PIR).


The new office area now provides an attractive and comfortable area for staff and visitors, making sure the University is providing a great atmosphere for everyone.

Project 4: New water system for student accommodation
Keeping students happy is a priority for the University of Leeds, so when some tenants living at one of the halls of residence reported issues with their water, the University acted fast. Lupton Residences is a 640-room student accommodation village in Headingley. Students living on the higher levels of the student accommodation blocks were experiencing issues with low water pressure, and the University of Leeds asked Sewell Construction to help.

We identified that they would require a new system installing, including an extra water tank and booster, to solve the water pressure issue. We worked to install these, turning a former storage room into a new plant room.
Works included:
• Installation of a tank and booster system to resolve low water pressure issues across the whole site
• Cut out of existing tarmac and laying of new underground services
• Cast of concrete plinths for new plant
• Blocking up of existing doorway
• Installation of new fire door and lining
• Rip out of existing ceiling and installation of fire-rated plasterboard ceiling
• Installation of firestopping
• Reinstating of block paving, tarmac and turf after underground services installed
The results:
It was a challenge to be able to complete the work during term time, whilst students were still living in the residences. It was essential that students could continue to live and study in peace, without being disrupted by work, which involved careful scheduling and communication.

We were also able to add value by identifying and remedying an existing water leak during the works, and at the time of writing we are currently undertaking additional surveys to help them improve their infrastructure at Lupton further.

An ongoing relationship

Our relationship with the University of Leeds allows them quick and easy access to a versatile and flexible team of estates and construction experts who can deal with issues quickly, but who are also adaptable enough to project manage and co-ordinate larger, strategic projects which will enhance the University’s capabilities, services and reputation. Operating with the University in this collaborative way means we can work side-by-side with their estates team to identify and overcome challenges together, a cooperative way of problem soving, rather than being bound to a traditional ‘client-supplier’ way of working.

As well as the on-site we do for them, we’ve also undertaken added value work during the projects to help benefit the local community and University staff and students. This included 36 weeks of apprentices working on site, eight weeks of work experience placements, and making our training resources on building regulation law updates available to University estates staff for CPD.

Find out more about other projects we’ve undertaken for the University of Leeds, including the £4m transformation of the Bodington sports facility, the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research and the remodelling and refurbishment of the Clarendon Building.