Building Magazine publishes a feature on the Liverpool Schools Model

13th November 2015

Today Building magazine published a feature on the practice’s work on the Liverpool Schools Model, with a focus on the projects’ glulam roofing systems.

The Liverpool Schools Model creates a flexible and economic architectural ‘shell’ in which individual interior components are added to create a mix of learning and social spaces bespoke to the individual school’s requirements. Sheppard Robson, working with Wilmott Dixon, has designed and delivered three schools so far – Notre Dame Catholic College, Archbishop Beck and Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College and Archbishop Blanch School.

In the article, entitled ‘School Building: Top Form’, Ike Ijeh – the Magazine’s Architecture Critic – tees up the discussion of the model by looking at a general overview of school design past and present:

“Schools construction is often caricatured as a simplistic battle between design quality and economic efficiency. The old Building Schools for the Future may have appeared to actively champion design but it was also dismissed by many as profligate and self-indulgent.

“The alternative Priority Schools Building Programme, championed by the government, may well embrace standardisation and efficiency but this too is dismissed by many as churning out production-line monotony that is low on design quality and architectural charisma. Is there a third way? Can a school be both efficient and cost-effective while achieving the innovation and variety that is essential for good design? Well, a new schools construction model jointly developed by architect Sheppard Robson and contractor Willmott Dixon aims to be just that. And central to this strategy is its soaring glulam roof.”

Sheppard Robson associate partner James Jones discusses the drive for quality in the design of the projects: “Yes, steel would have been cheaper and glulam comes with a cost premium. But the glulam was incredibly important to the whole schools concept and actually came as a requirement from Liverpool council and pre-dated our involvement.

“The advantage is that it justifies the use of timber on other areas of the building which also presents a cost-saving on finishes. This in turn embeds a quality of finish and robustness to internal walls and spaces that cannot be value engineered out. Additionally, the entire model isn’t determined by classroom sizes or a restrictive area schedule which can also lead to an unnecessarily complicated and less cost-effective design. The combination of these measures means that there is flexibility to ensure that going over in one area still meant that other areas of the design could become even more efficient to keep costs down.”

To read the full article click here.

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