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Darton College, Barnsley by Lathams

Latham’s Darton College avoids long corridors by combining common spaces with a central atrium

The architect’s view

The plan avoids the waste of space that can go with corridors and ‘back stairs’, with the exception of one short corridor. Common spaces of hall, dining room, library and circulation space are combined within a central atrium. Access spaces merge with floor space and percolate into teaching spaces, which have removable walls not burdened with any services.

The direct link with facilities dispenses with corridors and reduces the number of staircases. The outcome represents not only a fresh, innovative and original solution but can be described as bold, daring and progressive.

The building envelope avoids the use of wet trades by featuring a steel frame from PCC ground beams. Cold rolled Metsec rails support plasterboard internally and cement fibreboard to the outer face to receive the insulated acrylic render system. Windows and window walling have aluminium frames with timber face internally. Floors are used as a thermal mass for night cooling and no brick or block walling has been used.

  • Derek Latham, chairman, Lathams

Project data

Start on site April 2009
Completion March 2011
Gross internal floor area 11,500m²
Procurement Design and build
Construction cost £15.15 million, excluding external works (£16.87 million)
Construction cost per m² £1,317
Architect Lathams
Client BP4L (Barnsley Partnership for Learning) with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Structural engineer Buro Happold
M&E consultant Buro Happold, Crown House
Quantity surveyor/project manager/main contractor Laing O’Rourke
IT consultant Civica
Landscape consultant AWP Landscape
CDM coordinator Cyril Swett
Building inspector HCD Group
CAD software used AutoCAD
Annual CO2 emissions Not available

Specified products

External walls

Velfac aluminium frame to timber sub frame, bronze anodised finish externally

Floor plates

Bison Omniacore slab construction; PCC soffit exposed for thermal mass night cooled; underfloor heating system


Trocal single-ply membrane to warm roof structure; where seen, roof acts as terrace with paving and/or sedum roof mat


Bison pre-cast concrete for escape stairs; bespoke metal staircases to atrium


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