Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School, Bridgend

Project: Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School, Bridgend

As part of the Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School’s £20m relocation to Brackla, in the heart of Bridgend, a new state-of-the-art school facility has been created. With environmental considerations paramount in the new development, a durable and sustainable cladding solution was required. For this, HLM specified Artema cladding from leading producer of facade systems, Carea.

The school, providing education for more than 40 years, has seen its student numbers double in the last 20 years. Combining increasing numbers with the gradual deterioration of existing buildings, consultation was carried out with the Bridgend County Borough Council, Welsh Government and Archdiocese of Cardiff to assess the school’s need for investment. As a result, the commitment to spend £20m on a new building was agreed, with the new school offering 8,500m2 of space including science laboratories and music suites as well as an all-weather sports pitch.

With any new development, sustainability was of utmost importance. Main contractors Leadbitter and HLM designed the school to achieve a BREEAM (2008) ‘excellent’ rating. To provide this ‘green’ school facility, the building’s design incorporates large amounts of insulation, recyclable materials and the use of local manufacturers and labour wherever possible. The external facade was also crucial to achieving the required BREEAM rating. With this in mind Carea was chosen to create an envelope that – comprising of 95% natural minerals – also offers superb thermal insulation, protecting the building against changes in temperature and eliminating thermal bridging.

The Carea system provides a wide range of benefits in addition to thermal efficiency and aesthetic appeal. Requiring minimal maintenance, the Artema panels are designed and manufactured to be non-porous. As such, this ensures that they provide an economical solution and long-term resistance to graffiti, weather conditions and climate.

The Carea cladding panels specified by HLM in riven texture and basalte colour, have been installed across three storeys and cover approximately 25% of the school’s total external walls. The dark grey 16mm Carea panels provide the school with a contemporary appearance, perfectly complementing the building’s modern architecture.

Installed by specialist contractor, Central Cladding Systems, the Carea Artema system is supported with a comprehensive range of joint fittings. This enabled Central Cladding Systems to efficiently anchor the cladding panels to the building’s cladding support system. Held firmly in place, the cladding helps to create a thermally efficient building envelope whilst matching the architect’s creative vision.

With the durable and eye-catching Carea cladding system installed, the new school building looks set to meet all of the client’s and designer’s targets, delivering a stunning school building for the 21st Century.