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Oldham College

Oldham, UK


project overview

Exceptional college redevelopment bringing greater opportunities to Oldham

Oldham College, for students aged 16 - 18, sets the benchmark for further education teaching and learning, focusing on the development of young people and their future career aspirations.

As part of a wider masterplan which rationalised the campus and unlocked development opportunities, the college includes a new Campus Central, Digital and Creative Centre, Hair, Beauty and Travel Central and the Construction Centre.

Drawing on our extensive Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) experience, the college delivers greater environmental, economic and quality value, as well as faster delivery.

project aims

Supporting Oldham College at a time of exciting change

The college was undergoing a significant time of change, following the appointment of a new principal, and we were sympathetic towards the need to create a design that matched the college’s change in direction.

Originally approached to refurbish an existing 1970s building, we knew that instead a redevelopment would be a better, more cost-effective route to take to better support the learning of existing and prospective students.

We helped the college realise their vision and produced a masterplan for the campus, which provides a strategic response to their shorter and longer-term needs.

As well as working with the students to bring more student-centric facilities, such as vocational learning areas, we also engaged with the college’s employees at all levels to ensure our design worked for everyone, from building management, maintenance, lifespan and disposal.

AHR has been a fantastic partner to the College, helping us to articulate what we wanted and supporting our transformational plan for learning.

Their knowledge and expertise combined with excellent ideas ensured that we were able to successfully deliver our ambition”

Alun Francis

Principal and Chief Executive, Oldham College

the masterplan

Connecting back to the community

We designed the masterplan to evolve with the campus and curriculum, with each building flexible in size and space to accommodate different vocational education needs.

The masterplan also addressed the strategic need for future growth of the college and set aside land for further development. A more positive relationship with the wider community is forged through better connecting the campus with the town centre, and instilling a sense of pride in the local area.

The masterplan includes highly visible and secure entry points into the campus, ensuring a completely ‘safeguarded’ environment, placing the wellbeing of students and staff at the fore.

The design of the campus was based on diagrams that clearly set out public and private spaces, overcoming difficult topography, so all buildings are accessible from a common level, whereas before people would have negotiated stairs and ramps to access the campus and move between buildings.


design concept

Putting students first with a sensitive yet stylish design

The college is a seamless addition to the local landscape. We used a simple palette, graphite coloured concrete, dark brick and metallic grey paint finishes on each building. This was a vast improvement from their previous state - disparate in style and overall, uninspiring. The new design is strong, significant and recognisable.

We designed each building to ensure natural light, space and air was plentiful. Aware of the benefits this has to students in their learning; by boosting their productivity, improving their mental health, and supporting their personal growth.

Collaborative working spaces in the Learning Hub are generously dotted around the facility encouraging interaction between students and teachers to build their confidence as they learn.

Safe, sustainable design was at the fore during the whole process. With photovoltaic solar systems and high efficiency gas boilers, heating emissions across the campus reduced by 30%, enabling a more cost-effective, easy to manage, facility. All four buildings also achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating.

modern methods of construction

Minimal maintenance and cost-effective

We understand the importance of a smooth construction journey, and Oldham College was no exception to this. Whilst working on a live-site, we used MMC to ensure a sustainable, cost-effective project delivery.

The first two buildings, developed on the campus, used a prefabricated off-site concrete system for the main structure and external shell, resulting in highly durable components for a long lifespan with low levels of maintenance.

Throughout the construction phase, our use of off-site construction also meant we were able to protect the health and safety of the students and prevent any disruptions to college life.


Fourth phase

Dedicated learning space for trade skills of the future

The Construction Centre provides the college with the necessary space to promote practical learning of construction and trade skills. The centre has increased the number of construction students by 70%, with related apprenticeships also expanding by an extra 200 places a year.

The two storey Construction Centre provides an extra 2,296 m2 of specialist teaching and learning space. The focus on curriculum expansion and delivering higher skills, closely linked to employer demand, allows students to learn technical trades and higher professional skills up to degree level.

From the first class provision for practical plumbing and electrical work to the flexible build spaces, testing areas, mobile workbenches, breakout and showcase areas, as well as classrooms, offices, and storage space, students are able to access and enjoy a comprehensive range of resources.


Key information

Project summary


Oldham, OL9 6AA


Oldham College


8,500 m2




BREEAM Excellent


Campus Central
Digital and Creative Centre
Hair, Beauty and Travel Central
Construction Centre


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