University of Essex


Viega’s industry-first Megapress and market leading Profipress piping systems have been used on the extensive refurbishment of the Bertrand Russell Tower at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus. The German engineered press connections were selected to provide a quick, clean, reliable and durable heating and water supply solution on the first of a series of planned refurbishments for the university’s student accommodation blocks.

The 14 storey Bertrand Russell Tower is one of six student accommodation towers built in the 1960s on the Colchester Campus. The renovation included the complete replacement of all interior elements and building services to modernise and improve the tower for better building performance and student experience.

This refurbishment forms the first part of a six year plan to update all student accommodation, with one tower being renovated each year. The timeline of the project required all the work to be completed between autumn 2018 and September 2019, including the removal of the existing fixtures and fittings. This meant that the installation of the building services had to be completed in a compressed timeframe.

Thick-walled steel tube was specified for the new heating pipework in the tower to help ensure a longer life for the system. Specialist plumbing and heating contractor, F.G Fennell was selected to carry out the work and its plan was to use a press connection system for the domestic hot, cold and potable water pipework. For the thick-walled heating pipework the intention was to use a combination of threaded and welded tube.

Megapress, the first solution of its kind launched to the market, allows thick-walled steel tube, with diameters between ⅜ inch and 4 inches, to be cold press connected. When compared with alternatives such as welding, grooving or threading tube, Megapress provides between a 60% and 80% time saving, depending on the tube diameter. The full range of sizes were required for the refurbishment of the Bertrand Russell Tower.

Steve Sievewright, Mechanical Contracts Manager at F.G Fennell explained: “We were looking for a high quality product that would help us meet the tight completion deadlines and Megapress seemed like the ideal solution. The speed of installation was a big advantage, especially for the larger diameter tube.”

Following the selection of Megapress, F.G Fennell wanted a single supplier for all press connections to simplify the installation for the team. As such, the contractor also chose Viega’s Profipress system for the copper water distribution pipework. Viega provided full installation training for all F.G Fennell operatives working on site.

Steve continued: “With the students moving into the accommodation immediately we also had to ensure we had no issues following the install and so the Viega SC-Contur feature was a big part of the choice of the products.”

Viega’s proven SC-Contur technology delivers a 100% positive leak if the fitting is inadvertently unpressed and is clearly discernible during leakage testing or when the system is filled for the first time. Products from across the Viega range, including both Megapress and Profipress fittings feature this innovation that provides a reliable method of detecting any issues early in the process to avoid costly and time consuming remedial work.

Object University of Essex
Place Colchester, Great Britain
Year 2019
Object type Education/science
Area of use Education science
Installation F.G Fennell