Client: Inverness College – University of the Highlands & Islands
Inverness College of the University of the Highlands and Islands is one of the largest developments to take place in the North of Scotland for many years.
BHC Ltd. were appointed by main contractor Miller Construction to provide the structural steelwork for the £38 million development. Overall the scheme was split into three phases, with the initial part of the work centered on a new home for Inverness College.
The largest building is located in the centre of the development and acts as the main focal point of the campus. Spread over three-storeys, the completed building offers more than 20,000 sq m of teaching and workshop space for over 6,500 students.
The building uses the diaphragm of the floor plate to transfer horizontal loading from the steel frame to the six braced steel cores. Where required, cross bracing has been provided within partition walls to give additional stability.
A standard 6 m grid pattern has been used throughout the structure with only a few areas requiring variations. Using BIM helped to make the steel frame’s design cost efficient as cellular beams have only been used where needed to allow for service integration.
The project features several long spans such as the main entrance and its adjoining full height atrium. Creating this large open area is a series of 21 m long beams, spaced at 6 m centres and supporting roof lights. Other long spans can be found in the first floor of the sports hall, where 17 m long column free spans were required to accommodate badminton and squash courts.
The centre of the building has a number of architectural features. Adorning the top of the building is three pods that are used as plant enclosures. The pods are of different sizes but all elliptically shaped, with the largest pod measuring 40 m long and 9 m high. Supported by the building’s roof steelwork, the pods were formed with a series of curved hollow section rings.
The building’s roof overhangs the main elevation and this feature ends with a prow that covers the main thoroughfare into the entrance. A series of 4, 14.5 m high V-shaped CHS columns support the overhang.