Education structures, Temporary buildings

A high-quality temporary solution to accommodate up to 250 people

Neptunus’ high-speed solution for St Catherine’s College lecture theatre conundrum

St Catherine’s, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford, is one of more than 150 schools and colleges across the UK that have been affected by the presence of RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) in the roof structures. For the College this has resulted in access being restricted to a number of their key operational buildings, which were constructed during the 1960s, with remediation work now required before reoccupation is allowed.

The buildings with access restrictions included the College’s permanent lecture theatre and seminar suites, necessitating a rapid high-quality temporary solution to accommodate up to 250 people for lectures, to maintain the College’s busy schedule of lectures, seminars and events.

The College was recommended to Neptunus given successful projects the business has undertaken for other leading colleges at the University of Oxford over recent years.

The Solution

It took Neptunus’ technicians just three weeks to construct a temporary lecture theatre in the college grounds, with a further three weeks to complete the fit-out of the facility which has the look and feel of a permanent building.

A 300 square metres Evolution II structure forms the main lecture theatre which is linked to 275 square metres of additional structures from the Neptunus range – Alure Globe, Alu Hall and Alure – which provide space for a foyer for refreshments and registration, break out rooms for seminars that can double up as an exhibition space.

Part of the complex, built beside a river, was erected on scaffolding to ensure a uniform height throughout with external walkways created around the temporary buildings. Neptunus’ technicians even constructed the main entrance around one of the college’s most treasured artworks, a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth that is permanently displayed in the grounds where the temporary lecture theatre complex was erected.

The fit-out of the high-spec facility includes tiered seating, suspended ceilings, lighting, air conditioning, power supplies and internal partition walls. It is scheduled to be on site at the for at least nine months.

The Challenge

2024 saw the UK experience one of the wettest winters ever, with torrential rain and wide-spread flooding across the nation. Oxfordshire was one of the areas badly affected and with St Catherine’s College situated alongside a river and with a moat in the gardens, the Neptunus team had to carry out the build in difficult conditions on saturated ground.

The build required over 140 tonnes of equipment to be delivered to a compact and narrow site located between existing college buildings and the riverside.  The work had to be carried out swiftly and efficiently but ensuring that the day-to-day operation of the college was not compromised.

Neptunus project managed the entire process, appointing scaffolders to ensure all temporary structures were level on the uneven ground and seating and fit-out specialists for the impressive internal finish.


St Catherine's College

The Verdict

Belinda Gardner, St Catherine’s College Conference Manager, said: “It was a pleasure working with the Neptunus team to develop our interim state-of-the-art theatre and seminar suites. Throughout the project, Neptunus demonstrated professionalism, open communication, and conduct that aligned with our own standards, finishing the works to an exceptionally high standard. We are grateful that this venue was made available in such a short amount of time, particularly given the difficult weather conditions experienced during January 2024.”

temporary college room
St Catherine's College

Interested in Temporary buildings?