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Space and softness for Weston College

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Weston College, close to the sea at Weston-super-Mare, was a typical 1960s high-rise building. An extension by architect Stride Treglown has given it a softer edge and provided additional space for expansion and new facilities. The new three-floor extension, attached to the existing south elevation, supplies the full-height entrance atrium that has become de rigueur for every academic institution in the country; it acts as a reception lobby for students and visitors, and as a versatile display space. The extension also contains 10 new classrooms, a restaurant, two hair salons, a business suite, two staffrooms and a shop. Lightweight steelwork balconies overlook the atrium void and provide access to a central free-standing lift shaft.

The new facade on Knightstone Road, clad in precast stone panels and considerably lower than the earlier building which it partly conceals, presents a less challenging outlook to the hotels opposite. A Schuco curtainwall system infills the steel frame.

The new main entrance has been placed on the east elevation to provide shelter from severe south-westerly onshore winds; the curved south-east corner, as well as softening the building form, addresses the important junction between Knightstone Road and Lower Church Road.

The extension relies largely on natural ventilation; silver anodised brises-soleil provide shade from solar glare and fins are angled to bounce light back into rooms behind.

The design team was commissioned on a competitive basis by Bovis Project Management. Aspen Burrow and Crocker was the engineer, Torpy the services engineer and Symonds the cost consultant. Ernest Ireland was the management contractor. The contract value was £2.5 million.

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