Student living presents some very complex and specific security considerations for specifiers. It’s important that students feel safe and secure, particularly as most will be living away from the family home for the first time and often bringing expensive – and very steal-able – electronic devices with them. It’s also vital that the developments are practical to operate and maintain, including emergency access, inspections and the inevitable lost key and locked out scenarios.
Traditional locks and keys with a hierarchy of key control remain the most practical, secure and failsafe solution, and this approach was taken as part of the refurbishment of 12 student accommodation blocks at the University of Hull.
The University of Hull student blocks are arranged as apartments with shared living and cooking facilities, along with private en-suite study bedrooms. The entrance to each block is secured with an access control system but keys and locks have been installed to give each resident access to their own apartment and their own room within it.
Each resident has been issued with a single key to unlock both the front door to their apartment and their study bedroom. It was essential that the key could not be used to access any other apartment or bedroom. The refurbishment contractor was also keen to reduce the number of master keys required to gain authorised maintenance access and brought in Miles Architectural Ironmongery to supply a suitable system.
Explains Mark Read, Project manager at Miles Architectural Ironmongery: “We visited the site to walk round the student accommodation blocks so that we could draw up a detailed specification of every lock required and the matrix of which keys needed to fit which lock.
“The task was extremely complicated but the goal was to make the finished lock installation as simple and user-friendly as possible.”
Following the site visit, Miles Architectural Ironmongery carried out key variation calculations and developed a detailed chart of project requirements to brief the team at Locking Systems.
Mark Read continues: “We have worked with Locking Systems on many occasions and know that we can trust them to take the detailed information we provide and manufacture the correct itinerary of locks and keys with a reliable five- to seven-day lead time.
“It was important that the lock barrels were compatible with the existing lock cases because the locks were being retrofitted. It was also essential that students’ keys could not be re-cut on the high street, to protect against sub-letting, non-paying additional residents and theft, so Locking Systems’ ability to provide patent-protected keys was also an integral part of delivering on the brief.”
Miles Architectural Ironmongery supplied a detailed specification to Locking Systems, including a complete list of door numbers for each block and an itemised schedule of which keys needed to fit which doors. The Locking Systems team inputted this information into the company’s software to produce a detailed design for each of the 700 lock cylinders, each with a unique pin configuration, along with a schedule of keys aligned to each lock.
Bill Murray, General Manager of Locking Systems, explains: “The software generates a precision layout for the pin placement of each lock and collates each lock with the required keys so that we have a complete production schedule for every lock, aligned to the key and master key that will open it. All the cylinders we produced for the project are EN 1303 compliant, conform to grade 6 key locking security standards and have thumb turn opening for egress, so we were able to provide robust and reliable security and safety for students. Meanwhile, precision design and manufacture of the bespoke locks and keys offers single key convenience for students and master key simplicity for the estates department.”
The 700 lock cylinders were manufactured at Locking Systems’ factory in Gateshead, with phased production aligned to the installation schedule. Following machine production of the lock barrels, each lock was hand-pinned to ensure accuracy, smooth operation and reliable security. Each lock was supplied with two patent protected keys, and just eight master keys were required to operate all locks across the 12 blocks.
Mark Read continues: “To limit the number of master keys required across the project, all the locks and keys needed to be engineered at the same time but the refurbishment project was phased to maximise occupancy and minimise disruption, so supply also had to be phased.”
Alongside the locks and keys for the student apartments and study bedrooms, a number of additional locks were required within the student blocks for maintenance locations such as loft hatches and electrical cupboards. Locking Systems also manufactured these locks with hand pinning, aligned to the installation schedule, with a single master key.
For the maintenance locations, safety was the biggest concern, as these areas must only be accessible to authorised personnel. Installing the same high-quality locks and specifying all locks with a single master key provided a convenient approach to safety and security across all 12 blocks.
The University of Hull project is still ongoing with 10 of the 12 blocks now completed. The detailed engineering data for all locks and keys in the project will be retained within Locking Systems’ records to ensure that the delivery partners and the university have all the information required should any of the locks or keys need to be replaced in the future.
Bill Murray adds: “It is always important to consider maintenance and management of buildings throughout the operational lifespan of a refurbishment. Not only will the high-quality locks we provided be durable and smooth to operate over years of use, but the detailed information we securely store on the project means that we can produce new keys or locks to integrate with the installation at any time should they be needed.”