Versatile science facility, in harmony with the local environment
Christ College is a co-educational independent boarding and day school, founded in 1541. Located in the Brecon Beacons National Park, it is one of Britain’s oldest schools, with buildings dating back to the 13th Century. Following a major bequest, the school wanted to expand its science facilities, bringing all laboratories under one roof and replacing an outdated 1950’s building.
The Portakabin Group was awarded the £1.3m contract to build the new science facilities, designed by P+HS Architects. The challenge was to deliver a building with all the benefits of off-site construction, while providing an outstanding architectural design that was in keeping with the historical school buildings and the National Park location. This meant the building had to meet strict planning requirements.
The choice of off-site construction provided a sustainable building method. The building is made up of 16 steel-framed Portakabin Design and Build solution modules, which were manufactured off site and then delivered to the school during the holidays, minimising disruption to teaching.
“The new building is fabulous and has created a superb new environment for encouraging talented young scientists. Everyone who has seen it, has been hugely impressed. The Portakabin Group have been wonderfully innovative partners in the process… It was critical for us to have the new building up and running as soon as possible. The off-site approach allowed us to achieve this, and it has worked very well without any interruption to teaching.”
Emma Taylor, Head Teacher, Christ College
The design of the new building responds to its National Park location by incorporating local materials, such as Welsh sandstone from a nearby quarry, together with render and timber cladding to complement the surrounding architecture.
The new building incorporates two physics laboratories, two biology laboratories, a sixth form project room, technicians’ rooms and a double-height central atrium that functions as a teaching area and exhibition space.
The scheme has a number of sustainable features, such as solar water heating, energy-efficient lighting, natural ventilation and high levels of insulation.
The building was also designed to be adaptable to change. The internal walls are non-load-bearing and there are clear internal spans of up to 12 metres, so the teaching spaces and laboratories can easily be reconfigured to meet the school’s changing requirements.