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Performing arts centre, Frensham Heights School

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The performing arts space is a 9 x 9 x 9m double cube in volume; it is enclosed by walls of blockwork laid flat to give 215mm thickness for stability and noise reduction.

Blockwork piers surmounted by a concrete ring beam support a truss frame roof structure of glulam members covered with an insulated aluminium standing seam roof. The performing space is flanked by a lower two-storey structure housing dressing rooms, WCs and back-stage facilities.

Two tiers of galleries run along the sides of the performing space; the second floor gallery, partly suspended from the roof structure on CHS hangers, contains technical equipment and gives access, by means of fixed ladders, to the lighting bridges. The first and ground floor galleries contain seats. The first floor gallery spans on 195 x 50mm timber joists between a 270 x 180mm glulam edge beam and the blockwork walls.

A protective balustrade of horizontal 80 x 50mm maple rails runs along the edge of the galleries. The balusters, 60 x 25mm solid steel posts, are welded to 310 x 140mm steel brackets bolted to the glulam edge beam. A welded plate at the top of each post secures the 205 x 50mm maple handrail, and a welded lug at the base secures a birch ply toe plate.

The rails are slotted between 18mm diameter steel sleeves onto 12mm diameter threaded rods which are set at each side of the baluster posts. The ends of the rods are screwed into the handrail and at the base into the steel brackets. Five elements of the balustrade are framed with 60 x 5mm steel flats; they can be removed to give access to alternative seating and staging formats.

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