Developer Willmott Dixon is replacing the existing college and asked Sheppard Robson to showcase the latest technologies in sustainable design. Careful consideration has been given to the choice of construction methods and materials. Computer designed cross laminated solid timber panels will create the school’s load bearing structure, a sophisticated ‘flat pack’ system, set upon an insitu cast concrete ground slab. The timber comes from sustainably managed forests, fabricated to high tolerances and erected on site with expeditious efficiency. The departure from traditional steel and concrete frame systems is an innovative move for the education built environment in the UK. The timber structure has less embodied carbon than steel or concrete, creates minimal waste and offers a cheaper build alternative following a sharp increase in the price of steel.
The internal areas are designed to be open, flexible and adaptable, replacing the traditional long, gloomy school corridors with naturally lit break out spaces, encouraging cross-curricular interaction and learning opportunities. The design has been developed to promote the use of natural ventilation throughout, natural light and exposed timber finishes.
All classrooms and internal spaces will be naturally lit and ventilated via double height spaces and roof lights. Classrooms will have high level windows providing the general daylight required, while the low level panoramic windows, positioned just above desk height, will allow views of the landscape. The use of colours in walls and floors together with areas of exposed timber finish will create a warm calm environment all of which will contribute to a building that reflect the sustainable design approach.
The building has been designed to maximise energy saving via use of a bio-mass boiler, high levels of insulation, highly efficient plant and lighting. The new facility has been designed to achieve the additional 60% carbon reduction target over current building regulations and as such will be very efficient in its use of all natural resources.
The new buildings will provide space for 1,500 pupils and 172 teaching staff. The College will start in April 2009 to be completed in October 2011.
British Council for Sschool Environments Architecture award for Excellence in Design for Teaching and Learning