Coffeeopolis at Swansea University

Swansea University, Foodservice Solution by Interior fit-out specialist The Alan Nuttall Partnership Ltd

Bay side brilliance

At the start of the 2015/16 academic year, Swansea University was celebrating breaking into the top 400 in the QS World University Rankings, as well as opening its impressive, new Bay Campus, effectively doubling the size of the South Wales institution.

Situated on the former BP Transit site in Neath, Port Talbot on the eastern approach into Swansea, the new, £450m campus is particularly distinctive in that it makes Swansea one of a few global universities with direct access onto a beach and its own seafront promenade.

The campus with its numerous green spaces and squares is home to almost 5,000 students and 1,000 staff. It is located on the new College of Engineering and School of Management and its state-of-the-art facilities. The campus also includes a Students’ Union and an impressive Great Hall with an auditorium for 700 students and lecture theatres.

The campus also welcomes visiting business partners, due to its focus on science, research and innovation. This was a key consideration when planning the food and drink offering.

Head of Catering Services, Les Carmichael, looked at introducing a coffee and hot food-to-go kiosk on the main street which would hold appeal across the board. The kiosk would  complement the cafes, bars and food court-style restaurants at the campus, many with views across the Swansea Bay towards Gower and Baglan Bay, and would tap into the growing coffee culture.

Les Carmichael comments:

The campus is a large facility with a variety of people coming through daily, a ‘breakout’ area on the main street where you could grab a coffee and hot food-to-go seemed perfect,” he said. “We wanted a branded coffee offer, while the kiosk itself needed to have a beachside feel and bring into play the campus’ engineering focus and the city’s copper mining legacy.


Creating Coffeeopolis

Once the heart of the world copper mining industry, Swansea was once known as Copperopolis, so, before the kiosk project even got underway, the new concept was aptly named Coffeeopolis, with Starbucks chosen as the branded coffee of choice.

The next step was to find a foodservice display specialist with engineering capabilities that could bring Coffeeopolis to life. With 50 years expertise in award-winning turnkey foodservice solutions, Nuttalls won the full design and build contract after demonstrating not only innovative ideas, but a first class support mechanism throughout the project.

Project-led by Nuttalls education catering specialist, Louise Arber, Nuttalls came up trumps with a classic ‘beach hut-style’ unit with clean and contemporary timber finish to protect the kiosk and its staff from the elements, which opens up from the back and front to maximise custom and limit queues.

At the one end is a bar section with a bar style seating area where customers can sit down for a coffee and a bite to eat. It is stylishly equipped for hospitality and events for after hours or outdoor functions. Stunning vinyl tiles from British designer Neisha Crosland were specified to provide an upmarket and stylish feel with a geometric, thistle grey pattern to reflect the engineering focus of the campus. The bar surfaces themselves were manufactured from Zinc Patina to create an industrial, oxidised effect.

Nuttalls were also tasked with the full fit-out of the kiosk, using the contrast of Zinc Patina and Corian to create the worktops for ultimate catering practicality and hygiene. All worktops were installed around a central island so staff can work with ease on both sides. Copper lighting and finishes tap into Swansea’s mining heritage and create a retro-modern effect and a warm ambience.

To ensure the food-to-go served is the best quality it can possibly be, one of the piece de resistances is the installation of Nuttalls award-winning Flexeserve Zone® energy-saving hot food display cabinet, which ensures all manner of products retain optimum quality for up to four hours. Complementing a menu of cold sandwiches, muffins and biscuits, the cabinet at Coffeeopolis maintains excellent food quality for everything from hot filled bagels to sweet and savoury pastries.

Mine of success

Les Carmichael adds:

Never mind copper, the new kiosk, which is open from 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday, is worth its weight in gold at the campus, according to Les. It looks fantastic and is immensely busy, arguably our busiest unit, and we are putting out around 500 covers a week, he said. “In fact, we have had to take on more staff than originally anticipated to man it, but the user-friendly way the kiosk is designed means this has not been an issue in terms of space.

The added beauty is that we can also use it for outdoor conferences and external events, which ticks all the boxes in terms of generating extra income.

Ultimately, Nuttalls were spot on in interpreting our brief and were flexible in changing and fine tweaking some of our original ideas if we thought they might not work. They worked around lots of other building projects at the new site with a collaborative approach and were professional throughout, with support from Louise provided every step of the way. It’s wasn’t just about cost, but delivery, and I would happily recommend Nuttalls to any university.

Already recognised as one of the UK’s leading shopfitters, The Alan Nuttall Partnership Ltd specialises in interior fit-out, main and principal contracting, retail display design, manufacture and installation of fixtures, signage, foodservice and refrigeration equipment for retail, commercial, hospitality, leisure, foodservice and the public sector.