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Equitone clads new Academy

An Equitone architectural fibre cement facade from Marley Eternit has been used to clad a new £17.6 million Academy in Birmingham

Posted by Dave Higgitt | January 15, 2014 | Bricks & mortar

Equitone [natura] and [textura] was specified by architects De Rijke Marsh Morgan for the new BREEAM ‘Very Good’ St Albans Academy, which has been awarded both a RIBA West Midlands Regional and a National Award.

Fibre cement [textura] was specified by the architects in vivid colours to emphasise the two axes within the school and the entrance area, which connect the two small 'schools within a school' to the sixth form and specialist teaching areas with [natura] used as a darker finish to contrast the bright colours of [textura].

Four colours were chosen by the architects for the facade and fixed in vertical bands of varying widths, responding to the masonry of the adjacent Grade II listed St Albans the Martyr Church, to which the Academy owes its founding and inclusive ethos. Paradoxically, the material also relates to the adjacent industrial warehouses as the project was intended to anticipate the future renegeneration of this deprived neighbourhood in Central Birmingham, demonstrating how a fibre cement facade can bridge the gap between contemporary and traditional architecture.

Michael Spooner of De Rijke Marsh Morgan said: 'We selected Equitone because it is expressive, colourful, and economic. We worked strictly with standard panel widths and half widths to avoid waste, and set the windows around this to maximise efficiency of the material. The window reveals and soffit panels were also in colour to give the building a sense of solidity.'

The vision for St Albans Academy was to create two small schools within a school, each with their own headteacher, to accommodate 800 pupils aged 11-18. Two small schools on one side of the building are linked with specialist learning spaces, on the other by a spacious, dramatic central atrium.

The fibre cement facade panels are rivet fixed to Marley Eternit’s Helping Hand framing system.

The clients on this project were Lend Lease, Birmingham Local Education Partnership and Ark. The main contractor was Lend Lease and the specialist contractor responsible for installing the cladding was Horbury Building Systems.


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