Arden School, Solihull

Client: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
Architect: Marcus Russell
Contractor: GAJ Construction
Sub contractor: MPD Projects
Type of works: supply of 350m2 of Steni’s Stoneflex rainscreen cladding panels.

Rainscreen cladding panels from Steni UK were specified by council architects to complement the lightweight construction of a new sixth form block at Arden School and Language College in Solihull.

More than 350m2 of Steni’s Stoneflex Class 0 fire-rated glass fibre-reinforced polyester resin cladding panels, that are built up to provide a surface finish of natural stone (for Arden school in the colour Bermuda White), were specified by the Building Design Group at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

Installed over 12 weeks in the school’s 50th anniversary year by a two to three-man team from joiners and carpenters MPD Projects for main contractor GAJ Construction, the maintenance-free panels were fixed to the two-storey lightweight steel frame building around brise soleil using a steel omega and zed system.

The 1,800m2 building replaces an obsolete design and technology block and comprises sixth form facilities on the ground floor that include two art rooms, three design and technology rooms, two home economics rooms and one for hair technology. These are complemented on the first floor by five general classrooms, an ICT room and two study rooms.

The 13-month, £3.5 million build was funded primarily by a grant from the Learning Skills Council which required the 450-student building to achieve a 'Very good' BREEAM rating of 57 points.

Project architect Marcus Russell said: “This presented an interesting and fulfilling task for the team to undertake to design and produce a technically interesting, economic, energy-efficient building, over and above the current Building Regulations requirement.”

The building is the third new sixth form block to be erected at the school and was required to offer more vocational courses and student training such as hair design and home economics as well as provide evening classes for the general public in subjects as diverse as French, DIY, cookery and painting.

Marcus Russell added: “We specified the Steni panels to form part of the lightweight walling system which required a rainscreen cladding system but also for their appearance. The existing school is made up of a range of 1950s buildings with exposed aggregate panels and I wanted something that tied in with that. I used a light-coloured aggregate because it follows the form of the building’s lightweight walling system. I didn’t think a dark colour would do that.”

Headteacher, Ann Green, said: “The new sixth form facility will make a huge difference to students living in the area and will also be a welcome boost for the local economy.”

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