A specialist school for technology and the arts, the £20million Sir William Stanier School, Crewe, amalgamated two existing schools into one flagship institution. With high aspirations and careful attention to design, specifiers insisted on a rainscreen cladding system that was sustainable, attractive and – in line with British Standard requirements for new school buildings – had the ability to reduce exterior noise. To achieve this, they turned to leading producer of facade systems, Carea, and its renowned Acantha cladding.

The scheme was designed by architects Aedas, working for main contractor Willmott Dixon as part of a design and build contract. A key element of the project was the ability to deliver a sustainable building, with the aim to attain a BREEAM Rating of Excellent. The exterior façade was crucial to achieving this, because as well as providing visual impact it would further insulate the building and create a thermally efficient envelope.

To create the façade, Carea cladding was specified. Installed by specialist contractor Roofdec, the cladding panels feature innovative grooves for efficient installation. Manufactured from a high performance exclusive composite developed over thirty years by Carea’s technicians, the panels are available in over 30 different shades and a range of textures. Available in a range of standard panel sizes, they are supported with a comprehensive range of joint fittings. As they provide excellent thermal efficiency to buildings and eliminate cold bridging – as well as comprising around 95% natural minerals – they are an ideal addition to sustainable projects.

Alongside improving the thermal efficiency of the building, the exterior was central to the scheme’s acoustic performance. A great deal of attention has been paid to this element of the project, as it was necessary for the school to meet stringent BB93 standards for educational buildings and acoustic design. Carea panels are beneficial in this regard owing to their composite manufacture, which gives them the ability to deaden noise.

Spread across several elevations, the cladding was also central to the school’s modern appearance. Aesthetics are a key function of modern educational institutions, with the need to create stimulating and welcoming learning environments widely recognised. Carea cladding was specified with a riven texture in a basalt colour. To create one of the scheme’s central features, a curved elevation following the entrance canopy and curving at the building’s corner junctions, Carea provided ingenious curved panels to ensure a seamless finish across the entire building envelope.

To install the cladding, Roofdec first fitted high performance Eurofox Engineering vertical cladding supports with insulation fixed around them. As Carea’s innovative fixing system eliminates cold bridging, the combination of Carea cladding and insulation enabled the creation of a highly thermally efficient building.

Following the fixing of the lightweight aluminium Eurofox Engineering cladding support system, Carea’s horizontal T-brackets were fitted to the supports to hold the 14mm thick Carea cladding panels in place. The horizontal supports ensure precise fitting of the cladding panels.

Once in place, the cladding panels provide further performance benefits in addition to thermal, acoustic and aesthetic qualities. They offer low maintenance and can be easily cleaned. Crucially, owing to their non-porous construction, they are unaffected by graffiti. Combined with their longevity and climate resistance, this makes them highly economical.

Now complete, the Sir William Stanier School provides a high standard of education to the youth of Crewe. Crucially, not only does it represent modern educational philosophy, it also exemplifies the nature of modern educational construction, especially in regard to its careful and eye pleasing design and sustainability. Key to both of these – as well as the building’s thermal performance – is the lasting Carea rainscreen cladding that provides a key feature of the school’s exterior.

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