The brief called for a two-storey extension and partial conversion of an existing 1960s teaching block at Longford Community School.
The extension needed to accommodate two new classrooms and a Fitness Centre at ground floor level with a new Library/learning Centre. The challenge was to successfully extend a very dull and lifeless 50 metre long brick-built teaching block.
Materials and method of construction:
The structure for the new extension is formed entirely from laminated veneered lumber panels which are created by overlapping and laminating 3mm thick veneers of spruce to give a strong, durable material. These elements were cut, treated and stained to colours Jonathan Clark Architects specified. After delivery to site, elements were simply slotted together on the ground to be lifted into place. Galvanized steel shoe plates connect to the column base via vertical fin plates fitted into hidden saw cuts. As a result the columns appear to be simply sitting on a single flat plate.
To the rear of the extension timber beams are fixed to a steel frame, provided to retain lateral stability in the existing building. Unusually for this material, the structure is completely external and exposed to the elements and after much research was pressure impregnated in order that it could perform to these conditions and give a suitable lifespan for the new building. In between each fin are aluminium grating panels that provide more solar control as well as some structural stiffening to the external structure. Behind the structure is a two storey panel of glazed curtain walling.
The roof is a silver panel clad timber structure and is designed to give the impression of floating/sliding across the exposed timber roof beams. At one end is a new fire escape structure all clad with galvanized finish components.
The panel design includes a vibrantly colourful timber structure that straddles the end of the block creating an articulated three dimensionally layered ‘book-end’. Gratings inserted between the timber structures not only add a series of dynamic shadows but also help to tie the structure together.
Images © Peter Cook