The scheme brings the institution’s three existing schools under one roof, creating a state-of-the-art campus for academic education, design and building trades, automotive mechanics, and engineering. An open access policy for the new facilities allows the college’s 750 students to engage with and feel a part of the local community.
Through analysing the plot and its key sight-lines, the architects developed three meeting places within the campus that dictated the form of the permeable 15,000 square metre building. At the heart of the design sits ‘The Hangar’, a semi-covered open space where student and public walkways converge. Its vast proportions emulate the ship building facilities that once stood on the site. This area of the plan provides a sheltered outdoor space where workshops, concerts and exhibitions can be held by students and the wider public.
Internally, the school is articulated around a four-storey atrium. The sequence of levels includes an entrance plaza, canteen, auditorium and exhibition area. Technical workshops are found on the uppermost floors. Expansive glazed sliding doors on the lower floors flood the spaces with natural daylight and permit access for large scale industrial materials.
The building is constructed from sustainably sourced wood and concrete, which was chosen for its thermal mass and cooling qualities. This has been combined with a highly reflective rooftop that reduces initial heat buildup. Adjacent canal water is also used as a cooling aid during summer months, and heat exchanges have been installed as part of the thermal management system.
The school is intended to catalyse a region that has seen the slow demise of the use of its industrial buildings. It is hoped that the courses taught will help revive some of the practical trades and skills that the area was once known for, such as carpentry, welding, and mechanical engineering.
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