Construction Industry Today

Armstrong Canopies help bring unity to a split-site school

A variety of systems from Armstrong Ceilings feature on a redeveloped school
Published 25 June 2012

Ceiling systems from Armstrong were specified by a local authority for the redevelopment of a school for a number of reasons, not least their acoustic performance, aesthetics, flexibility and practicality.

Armstrong Ceilings' Axiom Knife Edge canopies, with a perimeter trim of the school's corporate colour of blue, were used in classrooms and corridors, while suspended grids of mineral tiles were used in office, store and toilet areas. They were specified by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council's in-house design team for a school project built by BAM Construction at Dwr-Y-Felin Upper Comprehensive, previously a split site school.

The condition of the lower site, attended by years seven and eight, was such that the authority decided to amalgamate the school on the upper site. The £8million construction cost involved the building of a 3,200m² new-build block comprising 10 classrooms, four IT suites, resource centre, drama/assembly hall, staff accommodation and cyber café as well as some refurbishment of the existing site.

The Armstrong ceilings were installed by Omega specialist sub-contractor Richard Kemble Ceilings who had a team of four on site for four months.

The 230 Axiom Knife Edge canopies, containing a mix of Graphis Cuadros, Perla and Optima mineral tiles into which were installed lighting, signage, smoke alarms and air conditioning outlets, were the largest number of canopies they have installed on one project to date. These perform particularly well acoustically since they absorb sound from both their front and back (top and bottom) surfaces. They are also available in kits which take the guesswork out and add the detail of precision engineered, pre-cut, ready to assemble profiles and accessories.

The brief was to provide new school accommodation to a 21st Century standard and comply with BREEAM requirements. Gareth Nutt, head of property and regeneration, NPTCBC, said: "Our in-house design team have specified Armstrong ceilings extensively in the past.

This building was designed to make use of the thermal mass of concrete structure and the pods or canopies were specified in this instance as they allowed this mass to be exposed.

"They also met the specific acoustic and aesthetic requirements of the project, providing an excellent visual appearance while not restricting access to the structural mass. The design team did consider other types of canopies but the Armstrong system offered more flexibility."

He added: "Because the canopies are basically a grid system, they also had the choice of tile which acoustically and aesthetically gave them a wide variety of options. They were able to choose the RAL colour for the edge trim which helped to tie together the overall colour scheme and inject colour into the ceilings. "With the standard grid system they could also drop standard-type recessed light fittings and vent units into the ceiling. The other advantage with the grid is that in terms of maintenance, if a tile is damaged it can be easily replaced."

Installer Richard Kemble added:

"It was a large project and a particular challenge for us to install that number of floating canopies. They were all specially made by Armstrong, their design team producing all working drawings, to ensure there were no clashes with the mechanical and electrical services being installed within them and certainly, all performed well on site."

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