The new generation of schools are designed to be stimulating places to learn and work. Some of these buildings are conventional rectangular framed structures but use modern cladding and glazing to create interest, others use more fluid shapes with curving walls and wave form or barrel roofs. Architectural aluminium specialist Guttermaster has been involved in many of these projects such as Retford Oaks, St Giles’ and Valley Comprehensive in North Nottinghamshire. Managing director Mike McKee, advises that two requirements are crucial – security and sustainability.

Many of the new developments are PFI’s and this is one of the driving forces behind the need for endurance and security. The investment companies that build and own the school buildings have long term obligations that are often formalised in a service level agreement. Under these arrangements, if classrooms or other facilities are not available the owner of the building faces a financial penalty. Against this background sound engineering design in the architectural details, the use of resilient, low maintenance materials and consideration of the practical threats that the building faces are essential.

Roof designs on new schools often have concealed gutters and projecting aerofoil fascias. These soften the lines of the building and accentuate curved frontages.
Rainwater down pipes illustrate this point. Traditional designs are available, but these stand proud from the walls, have traditional mouldings and so are easily scaled or vandalised. By making climbing easier they are a security risk for the building. New buildings such as Retford Oaks and Valley Comprehensive are more suited to the use of smooth, flush fitting no-climb designs and use Guttermaster Anti-Climb rainwater downpipes. These have smooth lines and no gaps at the back for hand grip, fixings are hidden to prevent tampering and an interlocking design is used for strength and to preserve the clean line of the pipe.

Modern rainwater down pipes bar access to the roof where intruders could cause harm to themselves, cause damage to roofing and skylights or gain access to the building and cause further mischief.

Roof designs on new schools often have concealed gutters and projecting aerofoil fascias. These soften the lines of the building and accentuate curved frontages. In addition, aerofoil fascias are themselves a climbing deterrent. Climbers cannot easily get around and over their smooth contours and access the gutter.

At Highfield Community Primary School in Sunderland, Guttermaster supplied semi spherical aerofoil fascias at the eaves and stepped shadow curve verges on the building gables. The shadow verges disguise the depth of the highly insulated roof and emphasise the vault curvature. Taking sustainability to a higher level, these buildings also have green roofs from Bauder. These have carpets of sedum plants on the roof to reduce storm water run off, absorb carbon, reduce solar heat gain and help the building to sit more comfortably in the landscape.

Aluminium is Guttermaster’s material of choice for both standard rainwater products and bespoke fabrications. Aluminium offers long term sustainability. In addition to its long life and low maintenance requirements, it remains a high value material that is easy to recycle with only modest energy input – reduced by 95 percent compared with the energy consumed in the production of virgin aluminium from ore. Around 40 percent of the products made by Guttermaster are made from recycled material.