A new, state-of-the-art £2.5 million drama and music facility that has transformed teaching at Uxbridge High School continues to receive widespread industry recognition. After being shortlisted for a RIBA London Regional Award earlier this year, the Orsino Building was recently nominated for a London LABC Building Excellence Award.
Taking its name from the character of Orsino from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the Orsino Building combines flexible teaching spaces with an outside performance area. Created by South West London based practice AndArchitects, the original brief for the project was to produce a building that would provide a space for teaching music and drama and to celebrate and inspire students’ performance.
A large performance room opens onto an outside stage, forming a natural amphitheatre and doubling the stage size. By utilising the surrounding levels with soft landscaping, inclusive design was crucial for accessibility and flexibility. The surrounding path becomes sheltered by the spectator area canopy and creates a place to view performances. The canopy also provides multi‐purpose seating area for the children during break‐times.
The use of polycarbonate cladding emphasises the rhythm of the vertical windows with coloured vinyl applied to the rear face of the polycarbonate sheet that alludes to a sense of movement with a translucent, shimmering effect.
In contrast, the internal timber cladding hugs the internal shell of the building whist achieving high acoustic performance. Simultaneously, the design adopted a box in box construction between the teaching spaces to acoustically isolate the rooms. Externally the green sedum roofing system gives a coherent outlook from the surrounding buildings.
RHM Building Infrastructure Services provided mechanical, electrical and public health services for Uxbridge High School. The thermal model was created for the building and appropriate overheating checks were carried out to ensure high levels of indoor air quality can be maintained.
Fresh air was provided by high efficiency heat recovery ventilation system with high level of attenuation to required NR levels within each space. Due to the low resulting low heat loss, it was possible to utilise underfloor heating throughout the building, without a requirement for additional heating.
Using underfloor heating, with a reduced temperature allows the heating plant to have a smaller duty resulting in smaller boilers running more efficiently. The reductions in the loads, coupled with the use of energy efficient systems, has helped reduce the plant size.
Electrical loads have been reduced throughout the building, with luminaires utilising high efficiency LED lamps. Controls, for both the heating, ventilation and the lighting, vary to reflect the demand of the individual space rather than fixed for the entire building. This ensures that unnecessary energy is not expended whilst parts of the block are not being used.
Given the complex nature of the project, involving the demolition of the old block and a new build, there were a number of challenges faced by main contractor Northvale Construction and building services consultant RHM Building Infrastructure Services. The planning procedure was complicated by the fact the site is within Green Belt and teaching was to be maintained during the works.
Since opening in time for the start of the 2017 academic year, the Orsino Building has been an overwhelming success. Not only has it helped the school with its continual expansion, the high quality and innovative design has proved to be a stimulating teaching environment. The industry recognition now being received with various award nominations is the icing on the cake.
Founded in 1998, AndArchitects has a design philosophy that favours simplicity and truth to materials. The practice has a diverse portfolio of projects across a variety of sectors.