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Virtually the whole range of products from architectural aluminium systems supplier Kawneer have been used for their “aesthetics, buildability and cost” on Foster and Partners’ new Folkestone Academy.
The Kawneer systems include AA®110 and PF (picture frame) curtain walling, an unusual saw tooth rainscreen system, the 451PT framing system, and 190 series of doors, all designed and installed by approved sub-contractor SIAC Construction (UK) for main contractor Wates.
The academy plays an important role in the regeneration of Folkestone by offering a range of learning and community services to people of all ages while specialising in the Creative Arts and European Languages and Culture.
State-of-the-art facilities include nine science labs, eight specialist rooms for art textiles and graphics, 10 music rooms, dance, drama, film and recording studios, and a sports hall with viewing gallery and retractable seating for 800 students.
The educational vision for the school for almost 1,500 pupils between 11 and 18 years of age is based on the pastoral or house system popular in public education that offers personal support and encouragement within smaller mixed-age groups.
The design concept therefore provided eight house spaces each contained within a 14m-diameter circular enclosure. Two groups of four houses are arranged between linear teaching areas interspersed by two triple-height communal courtyards, with a café and an ICT (Information Communications Technology) study area to the rear.
Students enter from one of two openings to the internal courtyards that lead directly into the houses. The courtyards can be used as informal gathering areas. Within the houses, there are intimate spaces for registration, pastoral support groups, dining, coat cupboards and breakout zones, overlooked by raised staff areas and seminar spaces, with teaching rooms on the upper level.
To minimise unwanted heat gain and solar glare, much of the 12,000m² concrete and steel framed building, including the perimeter classrooms, is naturally ventilated.
Kawneer’s AA®110 curtain wall has been used for the entrance zones due to the large panes of glass required and the mullions to these zones have been tied back to the intermediate structure with trusses specially engineered to Fosters’ design.
Kawneer’s rainscreen system - a special extruded system designed around Kawneer’s Shadoform plank system but in a saw tooth profile – features on the flank walls either side of the entrances.
The 451PT framing system features internally on the atrium space where three-storey high screens and doors link the circular houses. The beaded PF curtain wall features externally on the main elevations with the manual and automatic 190 doors used on the main and side entrances.
Fosters required some special treatment for this project and Kawneer’s architectural advisor and technical team were involved in talks with the practice for almost four years.
From the outset, Fosters wanted to pursue the PF route as this had been used successfully on buildings such as the Imperial College and award-winning Kingswood in Ascot.
The elevational design was based upon a 3.6m mullion grid and the architects were very keen to maintain the wide pane centres to keep the horizontal emphasis on the long elevations. To cope with the large spans a new mullion profile had to be designed and produced.
An important feature of the curtain wall design was to maintain a consistent pattern of opening windows at ceiling level, operated by automatic actuators linked to the building management system for night cooling of the classrooms. At cill level there are further opening windows that are manually opened by a single multi-locking handle. The introduction of so many opening windows was possibly the main reason why the PF system was chosen as fixed and opening lights with this system have an identical appearance.
A spokesperson for Fosters concurred. “The school is naturally ventilated so plenty of openable vents were required. The main advantage of Kawneer’s PF system is that the fixed glazing and openable vents have the same appearance so no additional framework was required.
“The Kawneer systems were specified for their aesthetics, buildability and cost. Curtain wall is efficient to build compared to ribbon windows and there are fewer interfaces with other trades. The Kawneer glazed elements are highly visible as horizontal bands along the facades and entrance screens.”


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Arundel Jones Associates Ltd
Hill Farm, Linton Hill, Maidstone, Kent ME17 4AL
Tel : 01622 745333

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News Categories : Curtain Wall Systems
Door systems
Framing Systems
Window Systems