One of the country’s leading technology colleges has reopened following a £28.5 million project that utilised specialist glazing systems to create a stunning new approach to the school environment.
Leigh Technology Academy in Dartford, Kent, which first opened in 1990, is rated academically as one of highest-achieving schools in England and Wales, with a school roll of over 1200 pupils – a flagship establishment that is pioneering new ways of learning in business, sport and science.
Underlying that difference in teaching approach, glass and glazing systems from leading supplier Wrightstyle were used within the building to form transparent linkages between classrooms and common areas, and between exterior and interior spaces.
The project, to build four three-storey colleges and a sports hall, with an indoor garden and large exterior glass frontage, was designed to allow light to flood through the building, and provide large and inspirational places for learning – a radically different approach to traditional educational architecture, which separates and segments classroom areas.
“The design was exceptionally challenging. One of the most important and difficult aspects of this project were the number of fire rated and non fire rated screens, all interfacing at the same point from different angles and different planes. This really highlights the versatility of both the system and the fabricator, APiC UK Limited,” said Lee Coates, Technical Director of Wrightstyle.
“It was a project for which we supplied glass and glazing systems – a complete solution that this project absolutely required. By supplying both the glass and the framing systems, and working closely with our fabricator, we were able to contribute towards solving the design challenges and help guarantee the finished systems,” he said.
To achieve its aim of creating a transparent and inspirational interior space, the BDP-designed building makes extensive use of large-span glazing, with curved interior screens offering stunning vistas through the building.
In providing a complete package of systems and complementary fire glasses, Wrightstyle supplied its advanced SR curtain walling system, with protection from 30 to 60 minutes of integrity and insulation. This system seamlessly blended interior fire-rated elements with the exterior non-fire protected envelope, whilst also achieving advanced acoustic requirements.
The company also supplied its 6050 F1 Series doors and screens, to comply with the building’s fire evacuation strategy - providing glazed fire doors and screens to protect two lift shafts in the winter garden area.
The screens, doors and curtain walling were fabricated by West Bromwich based APiC UK Limited, whose unrivalled expertise in the design and fabrication of glazing systems, meant they were ideal for this complex and challenging project.
“We were delighted with the creativity and professionalism of APiC, who successfully translated vision to reality, designing and fabricating a solution with which the client is delighted, ” said Simon Bennett, Sales Director, Wrightstyle.
"This was a project that demonstrates how modern glazing systems can give voice to an architect’s imagination – and to allow the design of buildings that, even a few years ago, would have been impossible,” he said.
Wrightstyle provides complete and glass and steel glazing systems solutions, including curtain walling and roof glazing, screens, doors and a range of glasses to meet all fire, ballistic and blast requirements – and all certified to BS, EN and DIN regulations.
Main contractor for the project was Galliford Try.