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Major refurb breathes new life into old school site

The refurbishment was designed by maber architects

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 24, 2016 | Bricks & mortar

A major refurbishment project in Liverpool, designed by maber architects, has transformed the site of a closed-down school into a modern learning environment for Knowsley Community College students. 

The existing 9,000 square-metre building on the site had been home to Christ the King Secondary School that closed in 2013. Knowsley Community College took over the site at Stockbridge Lane, Huyton, so that it could bring together a number of its campuses into one location.  

With capital funding from the Skills Funding Agency, they appointed maber to redesign the building to make it work for them as a further education college, including creating additional 3,200 sq m space in a brand new £5m annexe.

Associate Architect, David Brooks, explains: “Although the building was fairly modern, the space wasn’t designed in a way that would meet the particular teaching needs of the college. Careful thought was needed to create a modern learning environment that could provide for students studying music, through to hairdressing, catering, sport and art & design.

“It was also important that the design marked the change from a vacant site to a forward thinking educational facility that reflected the aspirations and values of the College”.

Maber designed a total refurbishment of the existing three-storey building costing £2.75 million. On the ground floor, the building includes a professional catering kitchen, pastry kitchen and bistro; a recording studio for the music department and a coffee outlet for staff and students in the cavernous space of the triple height atrium.

On the first floor, there are further music practice rooms, new open plan offices and individual offices for the management team. A new art department houses a printing press, potters’ wheels and a kiln. The third floor is home to The Lee Stafford Academy; the college’s hair and beauty department.

To add the further 3,200 square meters needed, maber designed a modern three-storey annexe to sit alongside the existing structure. The linear, rectangular building, built by contractors John Turners, has a plinth of brickwork for robustness with cedar cladding and white render above. Each gable features black glazed blocks and red rain-screen cladding. Large windows and full height glazing allow natural light to flood in to the space while the central corridor on the second floor features full length, clerestory windows that open for natural ventilation.

Outside, hard and soft landscaping was changed to allow for more car parking and bus drop off. 

Sustainability was a key consideration for the project and the building has been rated as BREEAM very good.

Knowsley Community College’s Principal, Anne Pryer, said: “The new campus has created a 21st century learning environment that enables our learners to experience both structured and flexible learning spaces to get them ready for higher education and the world of work. The ground floor of the annexe provides a home for our High needs provision and both learners and their parents are delighted with the new learning spaces and the ease of accessibility.

“The project has been over two years in the making and to see it complete and open heralds the start of a new chapter for the College and great futures for all our students.”

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