North West Skills Academy

Location Birmingham, United Kingdom
Services Building services engineering
Sector Education 
Client City College, Birmingham 
Architect Hugh Byrd Associates
Imagery © Tower Limited Partnership

Rob van Zyl

T +44 (0)121 262 2720

The innovative, state-of-the-art North West Skills Academy in Birmingham provides an excellent example of Cundall's commitment to sustainability and low energy design. The expansion of the college required the construction of a new 3-storey building on an existing site. The derelict factory building was demolished to make way for the new skills academy building. All works were undertaken on a fast track programme.

The client wanted to integrate renewable energy technologies into the building design as much as possible, so that it could be a showcase project and a real focal point for the local community. The £5million development incorporates roof-mounted photovoltaic systems, solar hot water heating, wind turbines and rainwater harvesting. In addition to these, the standard M&E services were selected to be as efficient as possible within the budget and design constraints. The building achieves a carbon emissions rate that is 8.3% lower than the Part L 2006 requirements for a naturally ventilated building and 10% of the building’s energy needs are generated by on-site renewable energy systems.

Opened in October 2007, this 3,270m² college features workshops and teaching and learning space for construction industry and automotive training. The development also benefits a wider community as it provides amenities for local people, placing it firmly at the heart of the area. It also allows the opportunity for access to a range of vocational training courses, an important benefit in an area where there is a significant skills shortage, but high employment prospects.

The performance of the internal environment was key to ensuring occupancy satisfaction and comfort. Therefore, TAS modelling was undertaken to assess ventilation availability and peak summertime temperatures within the building, as measured against BB101 design criteria. The modelling found that some enhancements were required to the glazing and opening window areas to ensure compliance and these were later incorporated into the design. The modelling also revealed advantages in exposing the thermal mass of the floor slab soffits to the space, and in combination with night time purge ventilation could further reduce peak temperatures. This was then employed to the classrooms within the building shown to be most prone to overheating.

  • WMCCE Awards (2008), Sustainability category, shortlisted