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Lowestoft College, Suffolk

16 January 2014

Location : Lowestoft

Architect : Chaplin Farrant

Contractors : Century Facades

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Norwich and Cambridge based, multi-disciplinary architectural practice, Chaplin Farrant Ltd, were engaged by Lowestoft College, Suffolk, to re-design and refurbish the main 6 storey tower block on the College campus.

The works formed part of the Colleges’ ongoing building improvement and maintenance programme, but with the main tower being highly visible in the local area, the project would also dramatically improve the public face of the College. As part of the environmental credentials, instead of demolishing the existing building, the existing structure was retained and the building overclad.

The original structure was approximately 90% glass and was expensive to run. The proposed solution would not only have to look impressive but also needed to create a new outer skin for an existing building that would extend the lifespan of the tower, reduce energy costs, create a thermally efficient building, reduce solar glare and create pleasant teaching spaces. This also had to be undertaken while the building was fully occupied and achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Very Good’.

The chameleon affect was interesting as it changes colour depending on where it is viewed from, the time of day, level of sunlight etc – it was a talking point with college users and the surrounding community from the minute it first started going up. The building, that was previously looking tired, now presents a positive, refreshed look to the surrounding area that better reflects the aspirations of the College.

The ACM itself was also chosen for its lightweight properties, the new façade needed to be highly insulated without putting any unnecessary additional weight onto the existing concrete frame.

"The ACM ‘Chameleon’ cladding was chosen to help achieve this for a number of reasons, not least the striking visual impact. The prominent location of the College meant we needed a material that was long lasting, low maintenance and that helped define a new image for the College."

Mia Church
Chaplin Farrant Ltd