The Forum, Southend-on-Sea

Project team


Structural Engineer:AKS Ward

Project Manager/QS:EC Harris

Main Contractor:Wates Construction

The Forum is a £27 million project that comprises municipal and academic libraries, a research and teaching facility, arts venue and cafĂ©. The multiplicity of this interesting building stems from the needs of its three clients: Southend Borough Council, The University of Essex and South Essex College.

Built on a former public car park, the four storey building is set within a new public square and is the focus of community activities. The redevelopment of the area has won the Borough Council awards and commendations including the National Place-making Awards. The project team have also received acknowledgement including a British Precast Project Award in 2014.

Both in-situ and precast concrete were used in this project. The post-tensioned concrete slab creates flexible spaces for the long-term adaptability of the building and is also material efficient, using less concrete than other concrete solutions. Precast concrete cladding panels are factory produced, with efficient processes and high rates of re-use and recycling of production waste.

The concrete soffits and walls were exposed throughout with feature walls of exposed concrete in the lecture theatre, main staircase and atrium; optimising the energy efficiency benefits of concrete’s thermal mass. The light-coloured, acid-etched precast cladding featured cast in fins that provided part of the solar shading solution, reducing solar gains.

The project has achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and provides residents, students and visitors with great facilities and enjoyment of a sustainable and aesthetically accomplished local building.


Building type:Public Buildings