Oct 23, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Industrial appeal for new college design

Published in Technical Focus
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Bradford College is one of Britain’s largest Further Education colleges with approximately 25,000 students. Until very recently it was housed in buildings dating from the 70s that were thermally extremely inefficient.


The College’s governing body approached Bond Bryan Architects to design replacement premises. These had to be laid out in a way that would suit 21st Century teaching methods where the emphasis is no longer on a teacher-led ‘chalk and talk’ model but rather on a learner-driven, project-based approach.

‘Facilitated learning’ of this type requires a building to be flexible with less emphasis on a cellular structure and a greater reliance on an open-plan layout. Consequently, Bond Bryan provided the College with two linked buildings: one they describe as ‘flexible’ with a mixture of teaching rooms and open spaces and the other follows a more traditional classroom layout.

Bond Bryan’s design draws upon Bradford’s industrial heritage, in particular the textile mills and warehouses that once brought prosperity to the city. There is the same repetitious pattern of windows and the coloured sections of the front elevation use the colours of the original Bradford College logo to replicate the concept of a fabric pattern.

The new College building makes extensive use of glazing and all the glazing systems are from Schueco. When asked why, Matthew Hutton from Bond Bryan replies simply: “Aesthetics and performance. We’ve done a lot of work with Schueco on recent projects and the results have been brilliant.’

Certainly, the glazing is a striking feature of the new building: in addition to a large glazed atrium, the main front elevation features a Schueco FW 60+ SG V8 facade system with concealed vents that is seven storeys tall. At the top of this building there is an interesting ‘saw-tooth’ roof and this, together with the absence of adjacent supporting walls, provided a challenge for Charles Henshaw & Sons, the Edinburgh-based specialist contractor and Schueco Network Partner.

The problem lay in the excessive amount of lateral movement that the facade system was required to accommodate and it took many meetings between the architects, structural engineers SKM/Jacobs, the main contractor BAM, Charles Henshaw and Schueco to find the answer. That a solution, which included huge bowstring trusses, was eventually found is a tribute to the team’s collective expertise, with Schueco’s technical department making a significant contribution.

The high level of thermal insulation built into all the Schueco systems used on the project was key to helping the building meet Part L requirements which is designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, despite a limited budget. Similarly, the systems’ impressive acoustic properties were important for suppressing the noise from the busy road that runs alongside the building.

Ventilation is provided by a mix of mechanical and natural ventilation. There are opening windows in all the areas except on one side which are fixed to deal with the noise of the traffic. Air-handling units on the roof blast air down onto the various different floors, where it comes up through diffuser grills.

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