Top marks for Rockpanel at Derby Cathedral School
October 2021

Part of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust, Derby Cathedral School is a coeducational secondary school providing education to more than five hundred pupils between 11 and 19 years of age. It is sited within an urban area flanked to the East by the rail lines approaching the city’s station. Rockpanel was specified for exterior facades to elevations of the new three storey school building and adjacent double-height sports hall.

Modern architecture informed by local heritage

BAM Design were architects for the project. They and main contractor BAM Construction Ltd were involved from the inception of the process at bid stage. BAM Design Associate Architect Marcus Burley, “We started with a blank sheet of paper, aware we wanted the new buildings to bear witness to the industrial heritage of the powerful architecture surrounding them. We’ve added visual weight to the school building with a large entrance section and canopy, drawing inspiration from the grand porticoed example in evidence at the City’s famous Neo Georgian Council House building.

Around 600m2 of non-combustible 9mm A2 Rockpanel external cladding is installed across the two buildings in a chequerboard pattern of perpendicular rectangular panels in four colours chosen by the school. These are Basalt Grey, Dusty Grey, Graphite Grey and Yellow.

The palette of greys continues through to the supporting columns and steelwork at the school’s rear and to the window frames and doors used across both buildings, contrasting pleasingly with their muscular red brick elevations, making the whole look sharp and modern whilst paying tribute to the legacy of Victorian utility/warehousing which populates the district.

Marcus Burley, “We wanted to play with the school’s association to the cathedral and used a cue from stain glass windows for the external cladding to echo the church feel. The design also uses Rockpanel to link windows in columns to give industrial verticality to the façade, echoing the DNA of the site’s history as a goods yard.”

The challenge and the reward

Rooksby Roofing were responsible for the installation of Rockpanel at both buildings. Rooksby Commercial Director Ian Newbold talked about the project, “The scheme was a challenge as the configuration used staggered joints with deflection zones built in, spanned over three floors. The panels are installed on to an aluminium Nvelope Helping Hand carrier system and fixed with colour matching rivets. The system also incorporates Rockwool Duo slab insulation and fire breaks both horizontally and vertically to form a robust A1 fire classification rating. We’re very pleased with the completed work which really delivers the affect the architect and owner were hoping to achieve.”

BAM have used Rockpanel for many projects in the past and it is also specified for several present and future developments. They love its fire-safe versatility and performance characteristics plus the fact that it can be matched to almost any colour, which allows them creative freedom. Marcus Burley, “Using Rockpanel across both buildings and several storeys draws them together. The randomized greys add buoyancy to the elevations with the orange/yellow delivering great pops of colour.”

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