The UK government's academies program aims to give underperforming schools a new lease of life by building legible, curriculum-appropriate facilities that encourage academic endeavour. For these two schools — Park and Springs — we provided engineering solutions that served an economic building program.
Steel framed with composite concrete slabs, the schools have external masonry cavity walls that help regulate thermal capacity. Springs is triangular in plan, with a central courtyard housing an amphitheatre. The self-enclosing triangular structure was chosen for heightened security. Parks is E-shaped in plan, with three wings leading off a long “street.” Both structures are double glazed throughout with ventilation systems designed to promote sound insulation.
The schools’ sites were riddled with former mine shafts and our geotechnical engineers helped design a foundation strategy to cope with potential sporadic voids. At Springs (where shallow shafts posed a real risk of subsidence) RC strip foundations are designed with a capacity to span over 3m diameter voids. All the strip elements are interlinked for added reinforcement.
Modern and economic building services solutions have been used in the construction of two new schools — Sheffield Park Academy and Sheffield Springs Academy — giving students vastly improved academic facilities.
Changes in environmental regulations meant that the schools’ ventilation systems have been designed to higher standards than ever before. Natural ventilation didn’t meet the required criteria due to the internal build up of heat and CO2. Instead, mechanical ventilation with a heat recovery and booster extraction system has been used. Studies into capital and running costs, along with results from a trial in another school, proved that the heat recovery aspect makes this option the most economically viable. Two sets of louvres in each classroom bay are incorporated into part of the system.
The classrooms have been provided with high standards of ICT, including interactive whiteboards, and wi-fi throughout the buildings and central courtyards. A low-energy lighting strategy that includes energy efficient fittings, daylight linking and dimming in the classrooms has been employed to reduce operating costs. The services have been integrated into the façade of the building.