Castle Park School Learning Plaza, responds to the Monmouthshire County Council brief to extend the school with a learning plaza for 60 students. The design of the plaza has been developed through consultation with the staff and students, Monmouthshire Council, the design team White Design Associates and the main contractor Willmott Dixon. The building has been consider in terms of educational brief, layout, appearance, sustainability, access and landscaping, to give the school a new learning plaza.
The plaza is to be linked to the main building at existing levels with principal access via the existing school entrance. Within the Plaza, the space is divided into a number of zones for group work, presentation & performance, art and science areas. In addition there is a quiet pod space, two cloak areas, internal and external storage.
Influences for materials have been taken from the School and Council’s request for sustainable and innovative technologies and deliberately contrast with those of the existing school.
The elevations are predominately a mix of large lime rendered ModCell panels, framed by timber cladding and sitting on a brick plinth. Full height glazing punctuates the panels on the northeast elevation (fronting the external teaching space), offering direct access to the outside environment.
Staff, pupils and councilors visited the ModCell flying factory, which was situated in a nearby farm, for a day out to see the panels being made. Questions were readily offered and answered and a good day was had by all.
The proposed building design adopts a ‘passive first’ approach to sustainability. In essence, the building fabric acts as a moderator of the external climate and the heating, ventilation and lighting installations deal with the reduced demands of the moderated internal climate.
Natural light is maximised and windows and rooflights have been designed and positioned to distribute daylights effectively, carefully managing any unwanted solar gain during the summer.
To the southwest elevation of the pitched roof it is intended to place Photovoltaic panels to help supplement the electricity demand of the internal IT equipment.
Colour contrast will be used as much as possible so that partially sighted users can more easily orientate themselves within, and navigate their way to the facilities within the building. Tonal contrast will be considered in the selection of door leaves, frames, architraves and door furniture, to facilitate use by the partially sighted. A sound absorbing ceiling will be used throughout, so as to gain an improvement in the intelligibility of speech. All selected materials must reduce the sound reverberation time within the building.