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Cladding by Steni UK features on a school extension in Rotherham.

Pupils at a primary school in Rotherham have experienced a metamorphosis in their education, thanks in part to imaginative use of rainscreen cladding panels from Steni UK.

Three shades of Steni's lightweight and low-maintenance fibreglass reinforced polymer composite Colour panels - black, white and beige - clad the elevations of a new 1.5-storey, two-classroom block for foundation-stage pupils at Listerdale Primary School.

They were specified by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council's Environment and Development Service for the £700,000 project for their reputation and colour range and provide an ultra-modern contrast to the existing traditional red brick and plain tile school building that has seen small modifications and additions over the years.

The only element of the new building that is load-bearing masonry like its sister structure is the entrance porch which is dark brick and accommodates carvings by the children in the theme of the building - a caterpillar.

Senior architect Howard Buckley said: “This was a conscious change away from the Steni panels in order to contrast with the main classroom. The idea is that children go through a dark room that creates a sense of anticipation.”

The new building was constructed over six months of steel frame with pressed metal framework walls and a standing seam roof. The Steni panels were screw fixed onto timber battens by specialist sub-contractor Jordan Construction Services for main contractor Hobson & Porter.

Mr Buckley said: “The school council (a group of pupils) and headteacher wanted a building that was stimulating and appropriate for young people to learn in, in an informal and flexible way. They didn't know what form the building should take but they didn't want a building like the one they were in.

“They agreed with me that the building should support exciting spaces to learn in and provide an aesthetic that young children would like to identify themselves with. The shape of the building and the rhythm of the pattern was inspired by the shape of a Monarch butterfly caterpillar.”

He met the brief by designing open-plan, flexible space with areas created through internal shape, fashioning spaces that supported small groups within the larger open-plan classroom. The two classrooms join at a wet play area instead of being separated by a solid partition. A mezzanine provides a joint area for the two classrooms and is accessed from the wet play area.

“Three child members of the school council made a presentation to our planning committee and the scheme went through on a unanimous vote which was fantastic,” said Mr Buckley, who has also specified Steni panels for a new building at Wickersley Comprehensive School.

“We specified the Steni product for the reputation and the particular colour range complemented the design ambition. It provides a rhythm of colour and scale to virtually the whole building as well as forming the external overhang where the classroom external doors are located.

“The aesthetic could not have been achieved without a coloured cladding panel. Alternatives would not have provided the colour and if we did add colour then it would probably have needed to have been paint-applied which would have meant poor maintenance as well as a poor aesthetic. We also used the Steni panels in their standard sizes to prevent waste.”

He concluded: “The school I think are over the moon.”


Photo: Hobson & Porter

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