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What is Reshaping our Estate?

Reshaping our Estate is a collaborative, strategic programme of work that is looking at the University’s estate to understand how space is used and the opportunities to use space more efficiently, to create an estate that is fit for the 21st century and able to support world-leading research and education.

The aim is to create working environments that inspire students, staff and visitors, and is equipped with the environmental credentials for the University to reach its target of absolute carbon zero on all energy-related emissions by 2048.

What is Reshaping our Estate aiming to achieve? 

We want to create an estate that is more efficient, more effective, more environmentally sustainable, and fit-for-purpose which celebrates the past and looks to the future, supporting the University’s mission. We want everyone who uses the estate to achieve the outcome they set out to do: study, work, research, think, collaborate…in environments that nurture and inspire.

What are the Reshaping our Estate principles? 

You can find the six principles that underpin the work we are doing within Reshaping our Estate on the main Reshaping our Estate page. 

How does Reshaping our Estate plan to achieve its aims?

Along with the six principles, we have three key objectives:

Establish the facts and present the opportunities, that will,
over time, create a place which will substantially improve the staff and student experience and wellbeing and
deliver a fit for purpose estate that is environmentally sustainable and delivers value for money.
We will only achieve them through collaboration with Schools, Departments and wider academic community and colleagues who use the estate.

How long is the Reshaping our Estate programme?

The initial phase of the programme is for 12 months. We will deliver a Strategic Estate Framework that includes options for a 20-year estate capital plan by July 2024. These options will be considered by the University in order to develop a set of priorities. This will include a number of smaller estates projects in bite-sized chunks with the delivery of quick and meaningful pilot projects, which will deliver change over time.

Why is Reshaping our Estate different from previous estate transformation projects?

We face mounting environmental, operational, and financial challenges and we are in a time of unprecedented change with regards to climate and energy challenges that we cannot ignore. These challenges can only be tackled at pace if the estate is considered holistically. We will look at the entire estate, and will work with Schools, Departments and Non-School Institutions to understand how space is currently used and where the opportunities lie to rebalance it.

How will Reshaping our Estate work with the academic communities?

At the heart of the approach is embedding an engagement team within the University’s Schools and Non-School institutions. They will play a key role in supporting teams in fact finding and data collection to establish the demand for space and the space challenges and opportunities across the University. With a dedicated member of the team working with each School, we will better understand the demand for space use and challenges each faces in finding spaces that suits people’s needs. This will be a highly collaborative process that must, and will, challenge the way we think about space. team will work alongside the other change programme teams.

How will Reshaping our Estate know how the estate is used?

We want to understand how space is used, when it is used and why certain spaces are used over others. We will do this through engagement activity, as well as collecting metric data and carrying out utilisation studies. We will bring all this information together and align it with the academic mission of the University and the priorities of Schools and Departments to develop the options within a Strategic Estate Framework.

What is involved in the utilisation study?

The Reshaping our Estate team have conducted utilisation studies across a third of the estate, gathering an in-depth analysis and greater understanding of how space is used across the estate during peak term time – reviewing space in a way that ultimately meets the needs of academics, staff, and students, and improves the overall experience for the future.

The utilisation study involves collecting the occupancy of each space within a building over a five day period. It is an important data gathering activity as part of the Reshaping our Estate programme as it will enable the team to understand how space is being used and understand the overall trends of use – what types of spaces are popular, which we need more of, and which less so.

How is Reshaping our Estate programme organised?

We have three core workstreams (teams) that comprise the Reshaping our Estate programme: stakeholder engagement, hypothesis, data . The stakeholder engagement team works closely with the Schools and NSIs to understand how people use the spaces within the estate and what people want from their workplaces. There are numerous individual differences across the University and we want to understand them and factor them into our plans.

The hypothesis team is made up of architects who will bring their expertise and ideas to produce concepts on what is possible; whilst the data team provide the quantitative evidence of how the estate is used. Throughout the programme, the team are working closely with the Estates Division to factor-in estates development projects that are already planned or in progress.

We are working collaboratively with the University Libraries, the Programme Board for Education Space, the University Information Service and others to develop a holistic approach in order to develop the range of opportunities that will improve the staff and student experience; this will provide choice to all Departments about where their staff and students can work to achieve best outcomes.

How will the Programme be managed?

The aim of the Reshaping our Estate programme is to establish the facts and present opportunities to deliver a fit for purpose estate that is environmentally sustainable and delivers value for money.

The Reshaping our Estate programme will follow the usual governance route for estates matters. Options are presented first to the Estates Committee and then to the General Board and University Council and will include a Grace for all matters under Regent House authority. A Programme board led by Professor John Dennis will also guide and advise the programme.

I’ve heard members of Reshaping our Estate use the terms ‘Demand’ and ‘Supply’. What do these terms mean?

We recognise that the University is unique and diverse and one size does not fit all. By working with you, we will better understand your priorities and operational constraints that stop people using the University’s spaces as they would like to. We want to bring together the wish list, ideas and view of how spaces could be used from schools and departments – the demand – and work that through with what is achievable through enhancing/refurbishing our many varied buildings – the supply. Combining the ‘demand-side’ data (numbers of staff/students, timetable requirements, working styles and arrangements, growth and actual utilisation of existing spaces) with ‘supply-side’ data (amount and types of spaces, opportunities to change/enhance spaces cost effectively, capacity of teaching, research and offices spaces) will enable the team to develop opportunities for a more efficient and effective space.

While most of our focus is on the future, we also want to deliver small, short-term improvements to the estate that would make more spaces available for working, collaboration and research that are not available now. The overall objective of the programme is to deliver options for a 20-year estate capital plan for the University to consider. However, we also want to deliver some improvements sooner that will add real value to how people use the estate.

While we are one University, the requirements of each school, faculty, department, and Non-School Institution are all quite different. How will you understand our requirements?

We will work with you to understand your requirements and academically co-design and deliver an estate that supports and enables the University’s mission into the future. We understand that each School, Faculty, Department and Non-School Institution is unique and that there is a spectrum of different policies, procedures and processes around current space use. Our aim is not just to gather metric data on occupancy, but to meet with you and talk through the challenges and opportunities of space use both at the local and University wide level. We want to develop opportunities that give staff and students across the University choices to work in different settings best suited to their personal and professional academic objectives; spaces that will support the wellbeing of all who work with the University respecting not just their academic differences but also their personal needs and wants.

Our department is in the middle of an estates project. How will Reshaping our Estate work with current projects?

The aim is not to start afresh or to slow progress, but to work with you on existing projects and align them with the Reshaping our Estate programme. We know that there are numerous projects at different stages of development and we will work alongside you and your appointed professional teams to understand the immediacy of these projects, their different scopes and timelines of delivery. We hope that using the data that we will generate around utilisation and changes in the ways of working, we can support each project in a way that will support its presentation as part of the 20-year estate capital plan.

How will Reshaping our Estate help to deliver a more environmentally sustainable estate?

The University is committed to reducing the energy-related emissions from its estate to absolute zero by 2048 at the latest. This commitment requires us to reduce our energy use and transfer to low and zero carbon energy sources. Reshaping our Estate will help us to identify opportunities to achieve both, for example through using our existing space more efficiently, and by identifying buildings and even sites that require major refurbishment in order to offer inspiring spaces in which to work and learn. Major refurbishments provide significant opportunities to modify buildings and sites to ensure they become more energy efficient and less carbon intensive. 

Equally, Reshaping our Estate offers opportunities to improve how we use and manage water as a resource, increase biodiversity by introducing and enhancing natural habitats, adapt our sites and buildings to be climate resilient, and develop better facilities and provision for sustainable and active transport.

In summary, environmental sustainability will be a key consideration in the decisions that are taken as part of Reshaping around how we create an estate that is fit for the 21st Century and befitting of a world class institution.

How can I contact the Reshaping our Estate team?

You can contact the Reshaping our Estate Programme team at:

Watch the Reshaping our Estate video that celebrates the inspiring spaces in which we work and learn.

Join the Reshaping our Estate community on Viva Engage to follow the latest updates.