The team from Ashford-based Directline Structures were on hand recently to talk to parents and students when they were invited to tour the centre.â€¨Managing director Duncan Murray said they were inundated with positive feedback, praising the design and sense of space created by high ceilings and abundance of natural daylight.
“It was gratifying to hear comments like ‘wow’ and ‘aren’t the students lucky’ and ‘we never had anything like this when I was at school’,” he said. “To receive such an overwhelmingly positive reaction is wonderful and gives a real sense of satisfaction at a job well done.” â€¨â€¨
The facility, which welcomed its first students this autumn, caters for up to 100 sixth form students and includes five classrooms and a meeting room. It includes a Common Room at the front of the building, where students can relax and socialise, and the Study Room at the rear which is for quiet independent study. The design incorporates a range of sizes of rooms to cater for the different subjects taught at A-level, and each room has its own feature wall in a colour of the teacher’s choice.
Claremont Senior School opened in 2011 after taking over the former Bodiam Manor prep school site. Since then millions of pounds have been invested in adding a range of facilities. Directline Structures was commissioned to design and build a sports hall, which opened in summer 2013, quickly followed by the decision to press ahead with a sixth form centre on adjoining land.
Duncan said: “Just as we did with the sports hall, we had total responsibility for the sixth form centre, from the initial consultation, through designing the building to the exact requirements of the client, to obtaining planning consent, the construction and completion. We utilised our vast expertise in designing teaching facilities to provide the optimum solution for the school, on time and on budget.
“This sixth form centre represents tremendous value for money. Our school buildings typically cost around £1,100 per sqm to build, compared to the average build cost by local authorities in the region of £2,000 per sqm. This is proof – if proof was needed – that new school buildings can look great, be of excellent build quality and very cost-efficient. Value without compromise is how I like to describe it.”
Directline Structures, which has been developing commercial steel buildings since 1988, had previously built a multi-purpose hall for Claremont preparatory school and nursery at its St Leonards site.