A derelict building on the edge of Northampton city centre has been transformed into a striking 21st century educational facility, thanks in part to mirror-polished, perforated panels from Proteus Facades.
What was once the Royal Mail Sorting Office on Barrack Road, has now been redeveloped into an iconic school featuring a reflective Proteus SC Perforated Stainless Steel façade.
After closing due to a fire in 2003, the building remained uninhabited for over a decade and fell into disrepair. Once described as an eyesore of the city, the structure has now been given a new lease of life as Northampton International Academy.
Helping to respond to a significant requirement for school places in the city, Architecture Initiative identified the old sorting office as the ideal space for the new state-of-the-art school.
Working closely with the local authority, the London-based architects redesigned the colossal, brutalist building, which was originally opened by Princess Diana on her first solo engagement in 1981, into an education hub filled with natural light.
The Proteus SC Perforated panels installed at Northampton International Academy cleverly mask the monolithic appearance of the original structure, whilst not completely hiding this brutalist piece of architecture. The mirror polished surface on the face of the panels reflects the skyline giving the impression that the building is less imposing.
Reducing the perforation sizes from the middle of the façade to the top and bottom edges, maximises translucency, whilst acting as brise soleil, providing shade from solar glare and preventing over-heating to the teaching spaces.
The single skin perforated panels were manufactured from a sheet of 2mm Stainless Steel, which offers the ideal combination of high strength and a modern, progressive aesthetic. The material also holds excellent corrosion resistant properties.
Each panel, installed by Deane Roofing & Cladding, is supported by the Proteus aluminium carrier system and ancillary components anchored to a cantilever steel frame from the underlying masonry structure. These allowed the panels to be hooked-on from behind, accentuating the sheer, smooth façade interrupted only by the perforated design.
Northamptonshire is known for its history of crafting leather goods, particularly the art of traditional shoemaking. So taking the design process one step further, Proteus Facades worked closely with Architecture Initiative to create perforations that acknowledge this heritage; with the holes on each panel positioned to imitate those found on a Northampton-made brogue-style shoe.
In addition, careful placement of the small and large perforations allows natural light to pass through and flood the interior of the school, whilst the metal façade is rendered virtually invisible from the inside. This innovative approach is just one of the reasons Northampton International Academy was named one of the “boldest” buildings of 2019 by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
With a floor area of 22,250m2 and generous high ceilings, the academy, run by the EMLC Academy Trust, accommodates over 2,220 pupils, including 420 primary, 1,500 secondary and 300 sixth formers.
The front of the school houses two illuminated signage boxes that indicate separate entrances for primary and secondary pupils, which perfectly complement the mirror polish of the Proteus SC panels.
Proteus SC is an engineered panel system that is available in either solid, perforated or expanded mesh formats, and in an extensive range of metals, colours, textures and forms. The system is available between 1mm and 5mm in thickness and can be specified with an acoustic insulation layer encapsulated within the panel. For internal applications Proteus Facades can also provide contrasting fabric inserts when the panels are perforated.
Delivered by Northamptonshire County Council with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency and developed by Contractor, Vinci Construction, Northampton International Academy is one of the largest education conversion projects in the country.
For further information about Proteus SC or to view more inspirational rainscreen facades from Proteus Facades, visit: www.proteusfacades.com or call: 0151 545 5075.