The Brief

The four-storey Ron Dearing University Technical College was constructed in Hull in 2017, offering employer-led learning specialising in engineering, creative and technical digital disciplines – a first for the city.

Following huge demand for places, the UTC wanted to expand and provide more space for student learning, especially in arts subjects.

Esteem project managed a high-tech, low-carbon refurbishment of Hull’s former Central Fire Station, just around the corner from the UTC building, to create the new STEAM Studios.

The Solution

The building, which had been disused for a number of years, was renovated and refurbished, with a number of aims:

– To provide state-of-the-art facilities for the creative arts
– To offer a multi-purpose gallery space for exhibitions
– To be energy-efficient
– To retain the character of the old fire station building

The Challenges

– The Post-16 Capacity funding had to be spent by April 2023, so the Esteem team had to get work started on site quickly, whilst ensuring the funding allocation was managed correctly
– An old, disused building, in a state of bad repair
– Local, visually striking landmark with historic features
– Deadline for completion to allow students to start learning as soon as the new school year began
– The building is owned by Hull City Council, and is a leased asset, so various legal complexities had to be overcome
– The building shares an access yard with Hull New Theatre, therefore Esteem needed to ensure that work was carried out with minimal disruption to the theatre’s operations – a difficult task when one of the theatre’s shows had 17 lorries of props and scenery to unload! Esteem maintained a close working relationship with the Hull New Theatre team, ensuring there were regular meetings and programme updates to avoid affecting the theatre’s work. When cables had to be installed across the shared yard the team went to great lengths to avoid theatre show times.

The Results

The new STEAM Studios opened to acclaim in the city, ready to inspire student’s creativity.

The new state-of-the-art facilities include a gallery and exhibition space, digital and photography studios, 2D and 3D studios, and a sixth form independent study centre.

Ron Dearing UTC were able to move into the new building in September 2023, allowing the school to offer new courses including A-level 3D Design and A-Level Graphic Communication. The UTC’s engineering students are now also able to be taught in the STEAM Studio’s Orsted Digital Laboratory.


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