Ada, the National College for Digital Skills
In 2023 we completed a refurbishment project at Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE), transforming a former secondary school into a pioneering digital campus in time for the 2023/24 academic year.
Named after renowned mathematician and pioneer, Ada Lovelace, Ada was established in 2016 with a mission to educate and empower the next generation of digital talent, removing the glass ceiling and increasing diversity in the technology sector. Students at Ada benefit from a varied curriculum, opening doors into a variety of careers in fields such as cybersecurity, animation and data analytics.
The refurbished building has been expertly designed to help Ada students reach their full potential. The college is also now defining new standards for sustainable education facilities with a range of eco measures on campus, including a green roof.
A pioneering campus
Over the course of five months, the team delivered Ada’s brand-new digital campus. What was once a secondary school has become an innovative space open to students of all backgrounds, fulfilling the need for greater education in the technology and digital sectors.
The existing building was reimagined and reconfigured to create facilities tailored to the learning style and needs of students. Ada is now home to over 20 digital classrooms, two lecture theatres, collaborative study areas, a library and much more. There are also breakout spaces available to students across the campus, including a cafe and a rooftop with views stretching over the capital.
Leading sustainability initiatives
As the existing secondary school building was only five years old, demolition of the building would have released a significant amount of embodied carbon. Instead, the decision was made to repurpose the building. During the project, we retained as many elements as possible by refurbishing materials to extend the product life cycle and reduce the number of new materials required.
We upgraded the existing PV panels on the fifth floor, adding 17 new panels to further reduce the energy load of the building. Additional insulation was also added to the terrace roof to ensure optimum efficiency of the thermal envelope, reducing the need to use energy to heat or cool the building. We also stripped a ‘failed’ green roof from the building and installed a new system to introduce biodiversity to the urban site, along with raised planters on the fifth floor.
We reused and reallocated over 95% of furniture from the existing building, donating multiple lorry-loads to local school, Pimlico Academy. The donation was facilitated by Chalk Creatives, who undertook extensive FFE legacy surveys from three multi-storey buildings to provide detailed condition reports for each individual piece of furniture.
Working towards a shared goal
Ada shared our goals of diversity and inclusion on this project. Our Senior Design Manager, Sandra Weerasinghe, who led the refurbishment programme, is passionate about encouraginggreater diversity in traditionally male-dominated industries and shaping the future for the next generation, making her the perfect project lead for Ada’s new campus.
Over the course of the project, Sandra worked closely with Ada’s Director of Operations, Sophie Clifton. Introducing more women and people from ethnic minority and low-income backgrounds into the worlds of tech and the built environment is extremely important for both Sandra and Sophie. This working relationship enabled clear communication between our team and the customer, joining together on a shared mission to create a truly impressive and inclusive campus.
Partnering for success
Collaboration is at the heart of projects such as Ada. We partnered with LSI Architects, Sutcliffe Structural Engineers, Eco Green Roofs, London Wall Acoustics and Cre8 Joinery across the project to deliver the new college campus. All firms involved are experts in their field, demonstrated by the high-quality delivery and handover of the college ahead of welcoming students in the Autumn term.
I’ve found unmatched passion and enthusiasm for our college in every member of the Wates team, and this has shone through in the work the team has done. We’ve been able to build an established campus that is breaking boundaries and opening doors for more women in tech and that’s a cause that Wates has been fully behind from the start. We’re ready to grow into our new building and Wates has always understood our vision.”
Director of Operations at Ada
Get in touch to chat about your fit-out and refurbishment project.