Rodeca panels help bring the wow factor to redeveloped college

Translucent polycarbonate cladding panels by Rodeca feature as thermally efficient walls to a central hub space at a redeveloped college.

A total of almost 800m2 of Rodeca forms a double wall construction delivering a U value of 0.45 W/m²K at North Hertfordshire College where an external skin of 60mm PC 2560 Kristall panels is lined with 40mm PC 2540 panels in Opal finish.

The Rodeca panels were specified by international design practice Scott Brownrigg, the architects responsible for the £10million upgrade of existing facilities which is being delivered as part of a holistic masterplan strategy for the 110,000m2 Hitchin campus. This comprised the refurbishment of three teaching blocks and the creation of a new internal hub space.

The 600m2 multi-functional hub forms the central focus for the scheme and was created by redeveloping a former external courtyard located between existing buildings. The new space provides much sought after additional areas for learning and social interaction while acting as a point of orientation, linking the existing buildings through the rationalisation of circulation routes.

The hub roof was conceived as a solid floating plane which unifies the refurbished teaching blocks. Its structure has been exposed to add drama to the space and sits on a band of clerestory glazing – the Rodeca panels – which brings natural light deep into the space.

Clark Barton, project director at Scott Brownrigg who has used Rodeca panels several times before, said: “We specified Rodeca because it offered a cost effective solution to meeting our architectural aspiration for the space.

“The Rodeca panels allowed large amounts of natural light to filter into the space and provided a clean, mullion-free aesthetic. The product also changes appearance throughout the day according to weather conditions. This was important to help animate the façade and create interest.

“During the day the structural steelwork within the Rodeca panels is illuminated and becomes an architectural feature. At night the façade glows from the internal light and creates the impression that the roof is floating. This translucent and frameless effect was critical for the hub space which is the most important building.”

The Rodeca panels were installed by specialist sub-contractor Simco for main contractor Morgan Sindall. The redevelopment was jointly funded by the college and the Skills Funding Agency and was delivered through the SMARTE EAST Framework.

Signe Sutherland, principal and CEO of North Hertfordshire College, said: “The new hub space at Hitchin certainly delivers the wow factor. It will provide an inspirational learning environment within which our students can work, network and celebrate success. Providing highly functional areas, the hub has been well received by both students and staff alike.”

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