Longford Community College extend dull, lifeless building into vibrant new inspirational space
This is a two-storey extension and partial conversion of an existing 1960s constructed teaching block at Longford Community School. A 200 sq m structurally expressed timber supported extension plus a total area of 550 sq m of existing space was converted to house two new classrooms and a Fitness Centre at ground level with a new library/learning centre at first floor.
The challenge here was how to successfully extend a very dull and lifeless brick-built teaching block. We chose to build a vibrantly colourful timber structure that straddles the end of the block almost as a kind of articulated three dimensionally layered book-end.
Our aim (and the client brief) was to design something visually and aesthetically interesting that the pupils and school staff could enjoy and feel inspired by. Internally, we designed various furniture types to suit a brief from the school to address their specific teaching methods and allow for maximum pupil interaction. Also included was a womb shaped auditorium for 50 children.
The staff have found that the pupils feel more ‘special’ and privileged when they are in the library – it is quite different from anywhere else in the school and has become a space that they now enjoy going to. This has in turned helped the staff to encourage, stimulate and teach the children.
It was the wish of the client that the main materials selected for the extension should be procured in an environmentally responsible way, hence the use of sustainable timber for the structure. We designed colour-stained softwood laminated ‘fins’ that support both the first floor structure and the roof and these fins were manufactured for us in Germany. These structural fins were then delivered to site and craned into place in only 4 days – a bit like a giant Meccano set.
Unusually for this material, the structure is completely external and exposed to the elements and after much research was pressure impregnated in order that it could perform to these conditions and give a suitable lifespan for the new building. We believe that this is the first time in the UK that bare (i.e. not clad over) laminated timber has been used to support a building externally.