Staffordshire University reinforces commitment to region with local cladding experts appointed to work on £40m project

Staffordshire University has enlisted a local cladding specialist to provide the distinctive finishing touches to its new £40m flagship building

Colleagues from Staffordshire University, Mace and Thorp Precast at the Catalyst building site

As a leading Civic University, we are deeply committed to working in partnership with local suppliers to create effective supply-chains across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. We have kept the brick-miles to a minimum and we are committed to acting locally and being sustainable.

Andrew Proctor, Pro Vice Chancellor

Newcastle-under-Lyme-based Thorp Precast will provide precast cladding panels for The Catalyst building on the University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus.

The 8,800 sq. ft. building, which is under construction on the Leek Road site, is due to be completed in September 2021 and will act as a study base for 6,500 new apprenticeships by 2030.

The precast brick cladding panels, which are currently in production, will provide a sustainable building solution whilst also paying homage to the region’s rich ceramic history.

The contemporary façade will adopt the concept of Staffordshire blue bricks entwined with red bricks and the appointment of Thorp Precast is an example of the University’s commitment to sustainability.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Andrew Proctor, said: “Staffordshire University is delighted to be working with Thorp Precast on the building facades. Thorp has an international reputation for design and delivery and it is important that we are drawing on this local talent in a project of this strategic importance.

“As a leading Civic University, we are deeply committed to working in partnership with local suppliers to create effective supply-chains across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. We have kept the brick-miles to a minimum and we are committed to acting locally and being sustainable. I am really enjoying seeing The Catalyst building take shape.”

Harvey Thorp, Managing Director at Thorp Precast, added: “With most of our projects located in London and other major UK cities it is refreshing to be working on such an important landmark building in our local Staffordshire area. Thorp is all about modern methods of construction, driving new innovations in design and manufacturing, utilising the very latest precast technology, all of which have played a part in manufacturing precast units for this outstanding educational facility.

“All of our employees share a huge passion for delivering high-quality precast brickwork facades, but there has definitely been added motivation and extra pride taken in producing units for Staffordshire University, with the site being in such close proximity to the factory.

“We now look forward to installing the fully finished panels to produce what we are confident will be a striking contemporary façade referencing North Staffordshire’s long and distinguished heritage for production of clay bricks and ceramics.”

The brick selection ensures both halves of a cut brick can be used as a facing material thus reducing material waste by approximately 50 per cent. Added to this, brick is an intrinsically sustainable product, having been used for millennia in construction and is manufactured from natural clay sources. The longevity and robustness of the material, coupled with the long service life of a precast façade, will contribute to the life-cycle sustainability of the building.

The project team for The Catalyst consists of VINCI as the Main Project Contractors, Mace as project and cost managers, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios as lead designer and architect, Max Fordham as mechanical and electrical engineers, and Momentum as structural and civil engineers.

Unjulee Karadia, Associate Director at Mace, commented: “It’s been fantastic to work alongside Thorp to develop the visual excellence designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios into a reality. As a subcontractor, they’ve been very enthusiastic about working alongside the team to enhance the design from a buildability, sustainability and quality point of view with the added benefits of a positive impact on the programme and cost. Their facilities are fantastic, and demonstrate the range of innovation that’s out there in this field. Having already seen some of the quality of the brick slips for the project, at their factory, we’re all very excited for them to make the 7-mile journey to the Staffordshire University site and feature as part of the flagship Catalyst Project.”

Michael Roadnight, Regional Director of Vinci Construction, said: “VINCI is delighted to be constructing The Catalyst Building for Staffordshire University. The project is in an exciting phase with the shape and size of the structure beginning to take shape. In selecting Thorp Precast as our supplier for the pre-cast cladding, we have brought a proven and experienced contractor to the project who will also be able to be meet the high-quality expectations. We have also taken a large step in achieving VINCI’s aspiration to employ local resources.”

Hugo Marrack, Partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, added: “We are very excited to be working on the design and construction of this flagship project for Staffordshire University, and also to be working with local specialist supplier Thorp Precast on the building facades. Thorp bring local skill and international experience to the project, and we are confident that the outcome will exceed all expectations.

“Though a large building, the brick and ceramic facades have been given great care by the team in their detail, craft and workmanship. It is fitting that the building embodies the University’s pursuit of excellence, and likewise embraces future technologies whilst building on past experience and knowledge. We hope that this will help to create the best setting for the students, staff and visitors of Staffordshire University.”

For more information on The Catalyst building and to see the latest construction project updates please visit:

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