“Input from John Strand was excellent. Deliveries were as agreed schedules and they were flexible in absorbing changes due to site restraints."

Joe Watt

Cowlin, Senior Project Manager

The need for good quality student housing is an ever present situation across the country and one which certainly applied to the University of Exeter with a student population of 17,950. In 2010 Cowlin Construction were awarded the contract to build a new facility and they approached John Strand MK to provide kitchens for the new INTO centre at Exeter.

Cowlin Construction (which is a Balfour Beatty company) discovered John Strand MK Limited on their group database and with INTO liaised with Sales Director, Calvin Reeves in the decision making process to develop the design schemes. The final project went to commercial tender and John Strand MK were the successful bidder. Their decision was based on the look and versatility of the kitchens and service.

The project, which had a budget of £20 million and a 65 week timescale, incorporated kitchens over 2 floors. This was a new build development with a brief that demanded high quality for overseas students which would work well within a studio setting and some kitchens for shared communal use.

Calvin commented on securing the contract: “Of course price is important, more in today’s economic climate, than ever before. But we are quite unique at John Strand; we have a very flexible approach and strive to fulfil the design requirements within the price range, normally within smaller than standard spaces. We use UK cabinet makers so we monitor the manufacturing process and can offer clients literally hundreds of finishes to choose from. Where multiple units are required the decision making process is imperative, get it right to begin with save a lot of headaches later on. To assist with this, we provided a sample kitchen for a ‘mock up’ room. This ensured the perfect colour could be matched and any modifications made before commencing the manufacturing process.”

In total John Strand supplied 195 kitchens comprising of 160 studio kitchens, 34 communal kitchens and 1 accessible communal kitchen. The programme started in September 2010 and a delivery schedule was planned with a document tracking procedure set up to coordinate phased deliveries to site. On a large scale project such as this, organisation is paramount especially when working around other trades on-site.

Commenting on the success of the project, Cowlin’s Senior Project Manager, Joe Watt stated: “Input from John Strand was excellent. Deliveries were as agreed schedules and they were flexible in absorbing changes due to site restraints. ..I have found John Strand a company that want to get things right and provide a good service.”

If you would like to find out more about commercial contracts we have completed or make an enquiry about a forthcoming project you have planned please contact the office on +44 (0) 20 8930 6006 or e-mail to enquiry@johnnstrand-mk.co.uk.


Product Specifications

160 studio kitchens – 1800mm wide with matt black MFC doors and cream MFC carcase.

  • Brushed aluminium worktops
  • Integrated 130L refrigerator with freezer compartment
  • Compact 700 watt microwave
  • 2 plate electric hob
  • Ducted extractor

34 communal kitchens – with fino bronze MFC doors and cream MFC carcase.

  • Designed to cater for up to 6 students
  • Kitchens were different sizes to accommodate space in different sized rooms but the average sized kitchen was 2400mm wide
  • Granite effect worktop
  • Single fan oven
  • 4 plate electric hob
  • Built in microwave
  • Ducted extractor
  • Lockable storage units

1 accessible communal kitchen – with fino bronze MFC doors and cream MFC carcase.

  • Designed to cater for up to 5 students
  • Motorized height adjustable sink unit
  • Mobile microwave units
  • Side opening single fan oven
  • 4 plate induction hob with manual controls
  • Ducted extractor


Communal Kitchen
Communal Kitchen

University of Exeter Logo Into logo

Communal Kitchen
Communal Kitchen