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Master planning of campus

This project was to build four educational institutional sites in Delta State, Nigeria. The University of Westminster, formerly the Polytechnic of Central London was engaged to turn three small existing further eduction sites and one new virgin site, into three polytechnics and a college of physical education. They were to grow and later turn into universities.

Traditionally the heart of educational sites is the administrative building, the library and the main meeting/conference hall. The ideal plan that was developed was one which followed this traditional arrangement as far as possible, and which separated pedestrians and vehicle movement. With the main polytechnic building at the centre, the other buildings were to radiate outwards from the centre. This plan had pedestrian ways radiating from the centre and vehicle routes circling around the centre.

Since the brief was to have the polytechnics expand over time, the advantage of the radial plan was that each 'cake slice' of plot grew wider as it receded from the central origin. Each slice was allocated to a faculty and there was space to add more buildings as the faculty expanded over time. 

Oghara-Otefe Polytechnic

The campus centre has a piazza facing the River Jamieson with the main Polytechnic buildings around it.  The academic areas has blocks, each comprising four teaching buildings grouped around a quadrangle. 

The Oghara site had a redundant school in one corner but the rest of the site was already cleared for development.  

The site was long and relatively narrow, rather than rectangular, and lent itself to having a central spine with buildings either side. There is a local road along all of one side. Not far from the site but hidden in the bush/jungle on the other long side which had not been cleared, was a wide river.

The master plan uses the river to create a focus for a campus centre made by excavating the ground between the site and the river and bringing the water into the site. A centre piazza has one side facing the water front.  The campus centre comprised administrative centre, library and meeting hall. 

The campus centre around the piazza comprises administrative building, library and meeting hall. This group separate the academic teaching area from the leisure/sports area and the student accommodation.

Ozoro Polytechnic

Ozoro was one of the four sites for which we had to do a master plan and design the buildings.

The Ozoro site had a short frontage on a main road and a deep hinterland. The site had a few existing agricultural college building on it close to the main road  

If the central area of the campus was to be near the road, the disadvantage would be that the other campus buildings as it developed would be a long way from the centre. 

Walking through the bush to explore the site, it was apparent that some areas of the middle of the site were lower than the rest of the site. Moreover these lower areas could be seen to have been prone to flooding especially in the wet season. 

The master plan exploited this to provide something to group the central building around. The low lying ground was to be dug deeper to create a lake to provide the identity and focus for the Polytechnic. In fact the ground conditions meant there were two lakes. The main buildings are on placed around three sides of a squuare with the third side overlooking the larger lake. 

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Ozoro proposed lake site.jpeg

Clearing the bush. It was hard to get the workforce to see the value of keeping the more substantial trees rather than knocking them down.

Low part of site that would flood chosen to be dug out for a lake to provide focus for the campus.

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The construction employed local villagers including women - often with children on their backs.

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A large roof overhang was traditional to throw tropical rainfall well clear and provide shade from the sun. Wooden shutters also used. 

The Ozora Polytechnic campus centre is around a square facing the created lake. Radial roads separate the vehicles from the pedestrians which use paths radiating from the centre. 

The academic areas radiate out from the central buildings and lake. The student hostels and the sports and leisure facilities are on the road side of the centre which make them more accessible for the local community. 

Traditional design in the region had large overhangs to shade from the sun. They also used shutters. Construction was wood but concrete has taken over as the main construction material and buildings are made of poured reinforced concrete and concrete blocks. 

Whilst the buildings could therefore only be made of concrete, there could be choices as to the layout and the design of the buildings.

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The courtyards or quadrangles are wide and long in order not to impede cooling breezes. They also provide community identity for the faculty and were to be grassed and planted to soften glare and add amenity. 

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The lecture room blocks have a roofed walkway to shade the class rooms and provide shades circulation. They also act to provide shelter from heavy tropical rainfall .

In tropical latitudes cooling is achieved by the breeze.  Buildings are often raised off the ground to allow the wind to pass under them as well as through and over them. 

These buildings could not be raised off the ground for practical access purposes and cost. Therefore each academic block was planned to be around a large quadrangle to allow the flow of the wind through the buildings with their windows open.

To reduce excessive overheating from solar gain, the lecture rooms are shaded by a walkway ( like a cloister) that runs round the outside. The pitched roof extends over the walkway. 

The typical lecture rooms themselves are spacious and have windows on both side to to promote cross ventilation through open windows.

Planning the lecture rooms around courtyards or quadrangles helps to provide a sense of identity and community. 

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Some of the contractors and the architect/planner. There were over 50 contractors for more than 100 buildings. 

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A chair being made in a local furniture factory. Each polytechnic had to be equipped with a large quantity of furniture.

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The classrooms were spacious to keep them cool and had windows on both sides for cross ventilation. Arches were added in the walkways to soften the design 

For simplicity the master plan included the development of a generic lecture room block with several lecture rooms around a around a courtyard or quadrangle. A typical generic lecture room was designed that could be used for both arts and science and be subdivided into the room sizes required for each purpose by each faculty by have a modular grid for windows especially. Each block had a central entrance on each side with decorative columns to provide identity and 'status'. 

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A generic courtyard lecture block at Oghara that was completed to design. It was intended that the courtyard should have some planting in it for cooling and visual relief.

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Tradition required a gatehouse. A more than usually imposing one was designed for all the campuses to show that the four institutions were all part of the same programme. Security guards can controls vehicles passing in and out either side under cover from rain whilst pedestrians go through the gatehouse and be controlled too. The guards living quarters are safely on the first floor.

Ozora completed courtyard.jpg

A generic courtyard lecture block at Ogwashi that was completed as per design. The eight trees will provide shade and cooling but, depending on species, may inhibit the cross flow of air 

The University of Westminster had to leave the project before the first buildings were completed but the project carried on under Delta State control. It is usually the case in such circumstances that the original master plans are not adhered to in ongoing work. Satellite images show that just a few courtyard blocks were completed as designed, and the master plan has only been followed in a limited way. New buildings have been built with no discernible coherent planning. Interestingly, there is one building type that has been built to the original design,  the gatehouse at the entrance to the sites. It was designed to be an imposing entrance but needed the rest of the master plan to make sense of it.

Oghara campus from satellite_edited.jpg

The master plan at Oghara (shown in the drawing above) was to centre the campus on the river where came up to the site boundary.  However the satellite image shows the spine road in place but the central area with river front has not been developed with an Administrative building, Library and Congregation Hall, but some of the typical lecture room courtyard building have been built.

Master planner & architect for Delta State Higher Education Project was Michael Buckley with Meghna and Mandeep Singh Sagoo from the University of Westminster & Spatial Design, Lagos. 

Infrastructure planning

The London Orbital Rail project was conceived over 15 years ago as a way of connecting together all of London's railways and also its major airports at the M25 with an elevated light railway. It will make changing between rail lines and airports super convenient by eliminating the need to go into central London. It also helps to reduce crowding on the existing train and underground network. 

The planning of the project is designed to have strong sustainable credentials by reducing the need for car journeys, avoid using 'green' land, use existing polluted and noisy routes and avoid any demolition of existing buildings.  

The route uses 'brown land' along the spare margin of the M25, M23, M1 and M11. Having the twin track on an elevated guideway enables obstacles to be got round or over with connections to existing stations either above them of alongside if there is space. 

LARTS routes around London & Surrey.jpg

The proposed plan for the route for the whole project is shown on the left with the stops that would connect to existing stations and airports. 

The project has been planned in a number of phases, starting with the busy south western section of the M25 where London's two major airports are. 

The proposed Phase One is called SLR (Southern Light Rail) and is shown on the right of the diagram. It will connect Waterlooto Heathrow at Staines-on-Thames. A spur line will have trains every 6 minutes taking 7 minutes to travel between T5 and Staines.

The next proposed Phase would create a 4 times an hour 31 minute express connection between Heathrow and Gatwick. A stopping service will connect the stations in between.

Contact:   Michael Buckley      tel:  +44 (0)7838 155739       eml: