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Flight club: Hamson Barron Smith’s International Aviation Academy

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This £7.9 million facility in Norwich has been built in response to an aviation skills deficit in the UK

Making use of an existing 1930s hangar adjacent to Norwich Airport, Hamson Barron Smith has installed a new flat roof and external cladding, improving the building’s thermal efficiency.

Internally, the space has been divided in half, with a teaching zone containing 20 classrooms, workshops and aircraft simulators around a large atrium, and an emulation zone, a vast workshop space housing a helicopter and Boeing 747 used for training. The only major adaptation to the original structure was a triangular extrusion to accommodate the tailplanes of large aircraft.

Iaa n mg 9268

Iaa n mg 9268

Tenants include KLM and Norwich City College’s technical aviation engineering department. As well as aviation training, the teaching zone has been designed as a flexible space that can also be used to host conferences and large-scale indoor events.

Architect’s view

Originally built in the 1930s, the 90 x 45 metre ‘Type C’ Ministry of Defence hangar was repurposed as a factory in the 1940s and remained virtually unaltered from its decommissioned state. Despite a dilapidated sawtooth roof and uninsulated asbestos/cement cladding, it was clear that the original structure remained robust. The surrounding airport industrial estate was similarly down at heel, and the rebirth of the hangar as the International Aviation Academy was seen by the estate owners – Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council – as a suitable catalyst for economic regeneration.

Fit out plan                                                       

Fit out plan

Project data

Start on site March 2016
Completion February 2018
Gross internal floor area 6,591m²
Form of contract JCT standard form
Construction cost £7.9 million
Cost per m² £1,192
Architect Hamson Barron Smith
Client Norse Developments Ltd
Structural engineer Hamson Barron Smith
M&E consultant Eyre
QS WT Partnership
Project manager WT Partnership
CDM co-ordinator NPS Norwich
Main contractor RG Carter
CAD software used Autocad and NBS Building
Annual CO2 emissions 15.8kg/m²

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