Acivico (Birmingham Country Council), Core Education Trust
Brand New Extention
New facilities to enable capacity increase
Pupil numbers go from 648 to 1,050 students
A Carefully Considered Combination
Associated Architects developed a carefully considered combination of reconfiguration of the existing space in the original 1960s building to make more efficient and better use of the area, demolition of selected assets within the grounds, and a new extension joined to the main building by a delicately detailed link. The Academy is bounded by a road to the east, and terraced houses to the north, south, and west. The northern boundary of residential properties and the school is separated by a small, dense area of trees and foliage.
The new 2,272sq.m teaching block provides a secure colonnaded gateway to the Academy, designed to carefully integrate the building into the surrounding domestic streetscape in terms of both height and materiality. It also forms a boundary and new gateway to the Academy in which students are guided through the entrance of the new extension via a colonnaded plaza, consisting of cream buff brick piers contrasting with perforated metal mesh at low level to complete the secure line. This offers a strong relationship between the extension, and street level materiality and form a recess in the building’s façade. On a practical level it enables the management of early morning pedestrian traffic into the Academy. The warm palette of materials makes the Academy approachable on a domestic scale amongst the streetscape, yet the design enable it to have a significant presence on the road, giving both the existing building and the academy a sense of location. Bounded by brick piers either side is a subtle combination of curtain walling and perforated metal panels.
The site was a heavily constrained ‘live’ school environment that left very little room for contractors’ compounds and stand-off working zones around the perimeter of the site. A hybrid structural approach was identified as the most appropriate solution, given the specific constraints and sensitivities. A SIPs solution for the walls was combined with precast concrete beams at roof and floor level. This minimised time on site and disruption to the school as well as ensuring factory monitored quality. The finished building has been hailed as a great success in terms of its aesthetics and functionality by the school, the education trust and Birmingham City Council, and was shortlisted for a Constructing Excellence Award. The advantage of this hybrid solution gained the benefits of the light-weight SIPs approach whilst also achieving increased thermal mass from the pre-cast concrete elements in order to help maintain a consistent, comfortable, internal temperature/environment.
Each floor of the extension is centred around a void at high level and ancillary spaces at ground floor, allowing a natural circulation route to flow off these central spaces. On the periphery, at ground floor level are a library, series of offices and general teaching spaces, whilst the first floor is occupied by ICT and Business Studies.
The new building combined with alterations to the existing building successfully provides crucial relief for the overcrowding within the existing Academy, whilst also aiding their expansion programme that builds upon their excellent reputation.