Upper College at Futures Community College, Southend

Upper College at Futures Community College, Southend

Architect: Fraser Brown MacKenna
Contractor: PAN Interiors
Type of works: design, manufacture and supply of Rockfon ceiling systems.

The recent merger of two existing colleges in Southend culminated with the opening of the £12 million new-build Upper College at Futures Community College in September. Designed by Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects, the new building comprises three blocks, which join together in a central double-height hub beneath an oversailing roof and canopy. Rockfon ceiling systems were specified extensively throughout the new building.

Nicola Jaques, lead architect for Fraser Brown MacKenna, commented on their choice of Rockfon ceilings for the Upper College: “Rockfon ceilings were specified as their broad range of products were able to accommodate the various acoustic and fire performance criteria required in the different spaces throughout the building. Their narrow, tegular edges, non-standard tile sizes and suspended baffles provided a wide choice of aesthetic options, in keeping with the overall architectural design of these spaces.”

Within the central atrium, 300 Rockfon Fibral Multiflex black baffles were installed. It was agreed by the design team that the liner tray to the roof soffit in the double-height central hub would be left exposed in order to reveal certain elements of the construction, which suited the nature of the building as a construction college and would also contribute to keeping the build cost low. Consequently some additional acoustic absorption was required in this space and vertically hung tiles were specified and installed to offer an acoustic solution and a design feature. The vertical installation enables creative design solutions combined with good sound absorption and provides unhindered access to exposed services in this location.

For the classrooms and corridors, a variety of Rockfon Sonar products were chosen. The Rockfon Sonar range features aesthetically pleasing, durable tiles with micro-textured surfaces, strong edges and excellent acoustics. They are available in a variety of sizes and edge details to meet the highest fire safety (Class A1) and sound absorption (Class A) regulations.

Sonar E tiles were used in the standard classrooms where acoustic calculations, carried out by Ion Acoustics, indicated they would achieve a reverberation time of 0.38 seconds. BB93 requires a reverberation time of less than 0.8 seconds for standard inclusive teaching spaces, while the DDA guidelines and BB93 specify 0.4 seconds for children with hearing impairments. All standard classrooms at Futures should therefore be suitable for students with hearing requirements. Sonar planks, measuring 1,200 x 300mm were installed in the main internal streets where the larger format helps to give a clean, uniform appearance, exaggerating the linearity of these circulation spaces.

PAN Interiors were the specialist contractor appointed by Rok to undertake the installation of the ceilings and partitions. Paul Aubrey, Business Development Director said: “Having worked closely with Rockfon on a number of education projects previously, we knew that with their wide product portfolio and range of solutions we could ensure a first class result for our client within a demanding programme.”

The new Upper College building at Futures accommodates students from 14-19 years of age and offers a range of vocational courses alongside traditional GCSE options. Facilities include a fully operational hair and beauty salon, which will be open to the public, and a modern construction workshop covering key trades such as painting and decorating, carpentry and bricklaying.

There is a machine shop in the carpentry workshop, where Rockfon Samson ceiling tiles were installed to provide maximum acoustic control and fire performance and a durable robust ceiling for this noisy environment. Samson offers excellent sound absorbency levels with the added benefit of high-impact resistance.

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