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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wooden college

Sheppard Robson to showcase new-school approach to educational design
Sheppard Robson has received planning for the £27m Waingels College in Woodley, Wokingham – incorporating a cross laminated timber structural system that will reduce its carbon emissions by 60%.

Developer Willmott Dixon is replacing the existing college and asked Sheppard Robson to showcase the latest technologies in sustainable design. Computer designed cross laminated solid timber panels from sustainably managed forests will create the school’s load bearing structure – a sophisticated ‘flat pack’ system.

The departure from traditional steel and concrete frame systems is an innovative move for the education built environment in the UK. The timber structure has less embodied carbon than steel or concrete, creates minimal waste and offers a cheaper build alternative following a sharp increase in the price of steel.

Sheppard Robson’s proposal divides the school into three pastoral bases which are expressed as individual learning communities, conceived as a ‘school within a school’: the community becomes a village of teaching and learning spaces; the central Open Heart space as a village green; and a fourth building houses the large shared assembly and dining hall spaces.

The internal areas are designed to be open, flexible and adaptable, replacing the traditional long, gloomy school corridors with naturally lit break out spaces, encouraging cross-curricular interaction and learning opportunities. The design has been developed to promote the use of natural ventilation throughout, natural light and exposed timber finishes to break down the mass of the school and delivers a building that relates to its users on a more human scale.

The new buildings will provide space for 1,500 pupils and 172 teaching staff. The College is expected to start next year to be completed in October 2011.
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