Construction of new college wing makes swift progress

Deborah Griffin at Homerton College
Deborah Griffin OBE with two of the Swift Bricks at Homerton College

The Bursar, Deborah Griffin OBE, has taken part in a topping out event with a difference at the construction of a new accommodation and auditorium wing at Homerton College.

‘Topping Out’ marks the building becoming watertight and construction work moving to focus on the internal fit-out. The event is normally marked by the fixing of a roof panel or beam, but in this instance, Deborah has helped to place one of four Swift Bricks in the gable ends of the building.

The main contractor on the project, Ipswich-based Barnes Construction has sponsored the Manthorpe Swift Bricks, which have been developed in conjunction with major house builders and conservation experts to provide a safe, spacious and habitable area to allow swifts to nest within the construction of modern buildings.

Deborah commented: “Bird species such as swifts have nested in the eaves of our buildings for thousands of years, but improvements in construction have put their survival at risk. Swifts come to the UK for three months during the summer to raise their young and they prefer nesting in small groups, but the population has been dwindling recently as suitable nest sites have become scarcer.

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“I am really pleased that we have been able to do our bit to support them.”

Designed by Ingleton Wood Martindales, the new £3.8 million four-storey building, when completed in the spring of next year, will provide an auditorium and two music rooms on the ground floor, and 18 en-suite guest bedrooms over the remaining three floors.

The building will enhance student life at Homerton, and the retractable seating installed in the auditorium will mean space can be adapted for several uses, from lectures and conferences to musical performances.

Mark Hart, joint MD for Barnes Construction commented: “We are always keen to support initiatives that help to sustain the environment and wildlife habitats around the places we live and work. So, we are delighted to have been able to sponsor the Swift Bricks. We hope it won’t be long before we see the swifts nesting and raising their chicks.”