Rockpanel enriches iconic new Doncaster Civic Quarter college
May 2021

Doncaster University Technical College (UTC) adds iconic architectural value to its town centre while offering students the technology, education and resources to become the engineers of the future.

Built for the Department for Education, Doncaster UTC will be part of the Brighter Futures Learning Partnership Trust and the Baker Dearing Educational Trust network. The new facility comprises a five-storey teaching block and three-and-a-half-storey sports hall, with dining below, a four-storey lecture theatre with a roof terrace and an outdoor multi-use games area.

The college aims to encourage more young people take up engineering careers. It will cater for students aged 13-19 years old and be led by employers, providing a vocational learning environment. With a core curriculum based around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, the UTC will provide an opportunity for students to specialise in engineering and creative and digital technologies.

Meeting UTC aspirations and ambitions

Faulkner Browns were the project architect. Architect Andrew Thompson commented, “The initial approach to the appearance was driven by the UTC’s aspiration for the building to be distinctive yet in-keeping with its surroundings and its ambition to present a professional, contemporary and exciting image to prospective learners and business partners.”

Doncaster UTC Principal, Gareth Rawson, “We want the new building to be an iconic town centre building that really adds something to the redevelopment of this area of Doncaster, as well as meeting the needs of our students who are embarking on an exciting journey..."

The building can be simply described as a restrained, well-proportioned plinth and body with controlled areas of interest and colour. This follows the blueprint set out by other developments within the civic quarter without being a literal interpretation. A brick plinth with recessed panels below the windows anchor the building while reducing the visual mass of the main block. Above it, lightweight standing seam metal cladding, deployed in varying widths, forms a base canvas.

The undulating pattern of the windows then create variation and interest in the elevations. Larger areas of glass curtain walling reveal activity within the building whilst the accent areas of feature Rockpanel cladding respond to key approaches and aid way finding. These columns and blocks of colour add visual interest, articulating and emphasising the elegant proportions of structure whilst harmonising with the palette of quality materials used in its construction.

Rockpanel used to enrich elevations

Architect Andrew Thompson, “Rockpanel was used to enrich the elevations against the otherwise muted facades. The palette uses two neutral greys with three accent colours taken from the UTC brand identity, which was carefully designed to promote equal opportunity by remaining gender neutral through the use of several feature colours rather than one single colour. The pixilation of the panels in 3 widths (designed to minimise waste by using factors of a standard width panel) and the lighting integrated into the façade, subtly externalise the college’s specialism, without being so specific that it wouldn’t suit an evolving curriculum.”

Rockpanel A2 is available in several surface collections, including super-realistic natural Woods and Stones, along with Metal and almost infinite colour matching capability. No other external façade cladding offers a wider range of designs and colours, enabling specifiers to explore new possibilities and realise their creative ambitions while satisfying fire safety standards. Added to that, these durable, highly resilient, weather, temperature and UV resistant facades will require little or no maintenance throughout their long life.

Building safe spaces which are fit for the future

The project main contractor was Willmott Dixon. The firm’s Managing Director for the North, Anthony Dillon, said, “We are delighted to be creating Doncaster UTC… a cutting-edge facility that will support young people to learn… and ultimately become the engineers of the future.”

Chemplas roofing and cladding specialists, were responsible for the installation of the facade. Their Technical Director Steve Gannon, “We have a long association with Rockpanel, having used them for several projects. It is a very good panel which is easy to work with. We followed the detailed colour plan supplied by the architect and liaised regularly with Rockpanel, who provided technical support, samples and fixing details.”

Rockpanel’s Ann Bone, “Following projects in Scarborough and Coventry, this is the third UTC we have worked on with Faulkner Browns Architects. Rockpanel A2 is lightweight and easy to cut on site without the need to seal edges, which speeds up installation. At Doncaster UTC it provides a Euroclass A2 fire-rated facade, backed with (A1 non-combustible) ROCKWOOL® Rainscreen Duo Slab insulation . The work progressed really well under lockdown conditions. All agree that the completed building looks superb and we are now planning further projects with this team.”