St Albans School
In recent years the school has experienced a consistently increasing take-up of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related subjects by pupils. However, it was found that there was a lack of existing, fit-for-purpose space to house and support the growth and teaching of these subjects at the school.
The new Corfield Building at St Albans School replaces a now demolished wooden cabin-like structure to address this need. Designed by PHP Architects and developed by Borras Construction, it includes a bespoke two storey maths facility on the upper ground and first floors along with a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) shooting range and office space within the lower ground floor.
A key requirement for the design of the new structure was to ensure that the outside aesthetics showcased the state-of-the-art facilities within and the leading reputation that the school has for its STEM programme.
To achieve the required aesthetic and taking inspiration from the old black boards and white chalk used in schools many years ago, PHP Architects specified bespoke Proteus GL 4mm back-painted glass cladding panels with a unique, screen-printed monochrome mathematical design.
Using state-of-the-art glass processing facilities, the glass was fabricated with a two layer digital screen-print effect. An initial white application was applied, and CNC control printed with the mathematical symbols. A solid secondary black back-painted layer was then added to create the black board effect. The featured arrangement of mathematical and geometrical symbols, shapes and equations represent those used within theories and formulas covered as part of the core subject.
While the principal of designing a blackboard for the external elevation sounds simple, it creates a number of challenges. The most prudent is developing a product that can both achieve the required aesthetics and have the strength and durability to withstand external environmental conditions such as harsh weather.
As glass is a completely inert material, Proteus GL was the ideal choice as it provides a virtually unlimited lifespan because it is rust and corrosion free. In addition, as the system is available in almost any RAL colour or bespoke digitally screen printed options, the material offers architects a wealth of design options while providing a product that is colourfast, resistant to UV rays and fully tested and compliant with CWCT Standards.
Proteus GL is an integrated modular rainscreen cladding system with an aluminium honeycomb core structurally bonded between a toughened back painted glass face and a lightweight metal rear skin. The system has been tested to EN13501 and achieves an A2 fire rating. It is also lightweight, being up to 33 percent lighter than the closest glass rainscreen system.
Each panel, installed by Craft Interiors, is supported by the unique Proteus system of aluminium carriers and ancillary components, which can be installed on to any type of wall construction, with no visible fixings, creating a sheer, smooth façade.
Commenting on the design and development of the new structure at St Albans School, (which received full funding from Nick Corfield OA) a representative of the School said: “As well as significantly improving the home of our ever-popular CCF unit, this development provides our Maths Department with a new building worthy inside and out of its outstanding results.”