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Lights, camera, action! Brighton film school student residence gets green light

Brighton and Hove council last week (January 13 2021) granted planning permission to developer Alumno to construct purpose-built student accommodation on Brighton’s Lewes Road.

This followed a thorough consultation process and comes months after the plans for the scheme were first announced.

The development will primarily house the city’s Screen and Film School students, with Alumno working closely with the college to create a movie theme for the building that will appeal to its inhabitants. The residence will also be available to students of other local education establishments.


The studio flats, which will be built over three and four storeys, will be able to accommodate up to 60 students, and will feature a number of internal and external communal areas for relaxation and study.

These will include a lower ground recreational area and study space, as well as a ‘green’ rooftop winter garden, offering views over Brighton ‘while encouraging biodiversity and improving air quality’.

In addition, a gym, cinema room, laundry room and cycle parking are also part of the plans, with a café and retail space occupying the ground floor and basement of the building.

In keeping with the area, which has the UK’s only Green Party MP (well-regarded former leader Caroline Lucas), several sustainability measures will be incorporated into the new student residence, including renewable energy via discrete on-site solar panels, low-energy lighting and high-efficiency heating.

Completion is planned for the summer of 2022, with construction scheduled to start in spring of this year.

David Campbell, Alumno’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to partner with The Screen and Film School, Brighton, to tailor this project for the specific needs and ideas of the establishment. This project, which has been beautifully designed by Greenaway Architects, went through a thorough and lengthy consultation process with Brighton and Hove council in terms of the overall design, streetscape elevation treatment, layouts and amenities for the students.”

He added: “Lewes Road is known as Brighton’s Academic Corridor due to its strategic location near to a number of higher education establishments, including Brighton and Sussex Universities, making it the ideal site for a student residence. As with all of our projects, we will work closely with the local authority and residents to deliver maximum benefit to the adjacent community.” 

Iztiar Leighton, principal at the Screen and Film School, Brighton, said of the development: “We are particularly pleased to be working with Alumno in offering our students such exceptional accommodation in such a unique and bespoke building. Our students will certainly be inspired by their surroundings, and can be sure of experiencing top-quality facilities in a central Brighton location.”

Alumno was founded in 2006 and partners with universities, colleges and other stakeholders to provide ‘high-quality living space’ for over 7,000 students to date across the UK, including in London, Birmingham, Norwich, Glasgow, Durham and St Andrews. 

Startup raises seed round and prepares to deliver £6.5m resi scheme in London 

In separate development news, Modulous, a London-based start-up developing a digital platform to enable the high-speed delivery of quality, sustainable and affordable homes, has announced that it has raised its seed round, led by Blackhorn Ventures. 

The company has secured the investment as it gets ready to deliver a £6.5 million residential scheme in Lewisham, using its smart design and build process to ‘achieve completion 12 months quicker than the client program’.

The firm, which has a further pipeline of live projects across the south of England, is aiming to deliver £25 million in revenue in its pilot year before scaling its operations across UK and into Europe. 

Modulous uses what is known as generative design, alongside a digitised supply chain management model, to offer ‘cost-certainty’ at the start of the development process.

The result, it says, is a ‘digital development appraisal tool’ that will help local authorities and developers to come to more informed decisions and provide an accelerated design and construction process.

The delivery of high-quality affordable homes at scale and pace is aided by a highly engineered kit-of-parts. This new approach to construction, by decentralising operations, can scale rapidly as assembly of the modules is carried out by companies local to the final site.

As well as Blackhorn Ventures, an early-state venture capital firm established in 2016 that invests in companies using cutting-edge engineering to 'improve resource productivity', other investors in the raise included Cemex Ventures and Goldacre, the UK family office.

The international investors behind Modulous are described as being ‘leaders in the growing global movement to combine science, technology and engineering to redefine the property development and construction industries’.

Chris Bone, chief executive of Modulous, said the latest round of investment has advanced the platform’s development more rapidly than anticipated, in turn attracting the attention of UK councils and public bodies who are keen to build high-quality, sustainable homes at scale and pace.

“Automated design, material technology and the digitisation of supply chain management are replacing traditional construction methods and will be what drives the high-speed delivery of affordable homes,” Bone insisted.

Philip O’Connor, co-founder and managing partner of Blackhorn Ventures, said that Modulous is ‘exactly the kind of off-site construction firm’ that fits Blackhorn’s Industry 4.0 thesis for this ‘built environment sub-sector’.

He commented: “They own the customers – large public or private developers of affordable housing – and they operate as modular designers and digital supply chain integrators, while outsourcing manufacturing assembly and installation. This allows Modulous to be highly capital-efficient, profitable and resilient to industry downturns.”

Mateo Zimmerman, of Cemex Ventures, added: “At Cemex Ventures we have spent the last two years searching the world for innovation in modern methods of construction. Modulous has an exceptional team and a concept which is going to revolutionise the residential development industry and transform processes in project appraisal, design and construction.” 

He said the Modulous approach enables the supply chain to deliver homes, requiring ‘no additional capex’ to deliver high-quality, sustainable homes.

“This makes is globally scalable and globally significant. We are very excited to be part of their journey,” he concluded.


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