A college in Brighton has welcomed students back to a £21 million new building which was still under construction during the first coronavirus lockdown.
The Greater Brighton Metropolitan College (GB Met) has added studios and classrooms for creative and digital students where they will learn skills and concepts for the jobs of the future.
And the new building – an extension to the Pelham Tower – is also home to a suite of training salons for hair and beauty students which are open to the public.
The college said: “The new facilities position the college at the cutting edge of training for the creative and service industries and will play a key role in driving forward the region’s economic growth.”
Art foundation student Ruben has been working in the 3D workshop there since its opening – and said that he had already found huge benefits to his study.
He said: “The access to the tools, equipment and machinery is so incredible. Walking across the plaza towards the college, it feels so up-to-date and modern, like a university campus.”
He is aiming for a career as a 3D artist and believes that the new facilities will give him the vital experience he needs.
He added: “With the technical support of my tutors and technicians, and access to the new building and workshops, I can learn a lot and do a lot before I go into a career in 3D.”
Level 3 film student Conor has been a student at GB Met for the past four years. He said: “The new facilities are really nice and the green screen room is great.
“We have a lot more room to experiment – they are helping me to convert my initial film ideas to reality and this is really helping to further my skill set.”
The lower floors of the building are home to new hair and beauty salons, with a salon reception and nail bar situated by the main college entrance.
This allows improved access for public clients who can have a post-lockdown haircut and a range of other hair and beauty treatments at a fraction of the price in the high street.
Classes are taking place in six new hair and beauty salons and one brand new state-of-the-art clinic.
In addition, there is a dispensary on each floor and a dedicated mixing room for tints, providing students with the hands-on experience they need to launch successful careers.
Sarah, a level 3 beauty therapy student who joined GB Met last year, said: “The new facilities create an aspirational and realistic environment which will prepare me for the best jobs – and thanks to the college I know what a professional work environment should look like.
“Each work area has its own adjustable lighting so you can change the mood depending what treatment you are doing. And I also love the natural light throughout the building.”
The building is set within a large outdoor plaza that includes secure bike storage for staff, students and visitors – and is open to the public to enjoy during the daytime.
The plaza will be the site of two installations as part of this year’s Brighton Festival. Robot Selfie will see a massive mural of public “selfies” on the side of the new building, drawn by Kaleider’s wall-drawing robot over four days from Friday 28 May. The finished mural will remain in place throughout June.
The plaza will also host one of several audio storytelling experiences located around Brighton and Hove during the Festival.
HERstory, a free, city-wide audio tour, uncovers the real stories of Brighton-based women and their experiences of living through the coronavirus pandemic. The stories can be accessed via QR codes on a smartphone from 1 to 31 May.
GB Met’s interim chief executive Andrew Green said: “It’s only been a few short weeks since we welcomed our students back on site and into our brand new facilities and we’re already seeing the benefits to both their education and to the wider community.
“The new workshops, studios and salons are setting the scene for our students as they prepare for their future careers in their chosen industries.
“And it’s not just our hair and beauty and creative students who are benefiting. The welcoming new entrance, outdoor public plaza and our fine dining restaurant, the Gallery Restaurant, are open to everyone.
“We’re really excited to be involved in this year’s Brighton Festival and we welcome requests from other community projects who wish to use both our outdoor and indoor space.
“In our mission to support anyone who wishes to retrain, upskill or pursue a hobby, we look forward to building stronger partnerships across and beyond the city.”
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