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Millennium school and health centre, Greenwich Edward Cullinan Architects

working details

A south-facing glazed facade with fabric awnings

The two-storey school has a steel frame structure with floors and roof of precast concrete hollow-core planks with in situ topping. The roof is covered with an insulated EPDM membrane.

All classrooms face south onto gardens and playgrounds; they are reached from ground-floor classrooms by coloured cylindrical drums in the south facade, which also house small WCs.

To benefit from passive solar gain in the winter while allowing rooms to be shielded from the heat and glare of the summer sun, the glazed south facade is protected with adjustable fabric awnings.

The glazing is partly sheltered, and glare is reduced by an overhanging roof; it extends at the eaves, supported by steel T-shaped brackets fixed back to a cast-insitu perimeter beam. Rainwater downpipes are fixed to allow clearance for the awnings. Fascias, spandrels, perimeter columns and beams are all clad with a rainscreen of polyester powder-coated Alucobond panels.

The external awnings are formed of fabric screens which unroll onto raked arms; they are set in three positions - open, half-open, and closed - by the Building Management System (BMS).

The awnings are fixed to projecting lugs welded to vertical storey-high steel plates flitched between the jambs of the timber windows.

Two sets of awnings are used on the first floor; the lower set gives privacy at desk height and helps to shade the rooms on the floor below.

The ground floor is set back from the first floor with a curved spandrel clad with Alucobond.Ground floor windows are additionally screened with galvanised steel grilles, which shade desks from low level solar glare and protect the glass.

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