Transforming the Royal Air Force Site into a Primary School


Profiled Firm: Quattro Design Architects Ltd. and Jonathon Reeves Architecture |  Location: United Kingdom

For Quattro Design Architects, the vision for Kingsway Primary School was to design a building that created a sense of place; that reflected the spirit of the former Royal Air Force (RAF) site on which it is built and that created an environment to enhance learning and teaching, delighting children, parents, and staff through its form and colors.

The Mission

Develop a primary school for children ages four through eleven on the property of Kingsway Estate, formerly home to the RAF at Gloucester, in England’s southwestern quadrant. The project was commissioned by the Gloucestershire County Council.

The Challenge

Create a village format school using sustainable methods that also encourages learning. The building should also stimulate children through the use of varied colors, textures, and geometric shapes. The budget was £4,260,000.

The Solution

Mix Quattro Design Architects’ innovative design and Jonathan Reeves Architecture’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) capabilities, and you’ve got sustainability with style. The team designed a building using Vectorworks software that relied on environmentally sustainable materials while making color, texture, and form a vibrant part of the everyday curriculum — with some surprising and cost-effective results.

How They Put It All Together: Making BIM Easy

Vectorworks Architect helped the team quickly bring the vision to life. Using the software’s BIM capabilities, Jonathan was able to work quickly and enable informed design decisions to be made by the entire team. The entire job was more efficient, since everyone could truly visualize Kingsway Primary in 3D and offer feedback in real time. Plus, with just a mouse click, Jonathan could verify measurements and their corresponding effects on the rest of the building. Using 3D modeling with freeform drawing, new architectural features, and extensive libraries of objects, the design process was noticeably streamlined.

The team used “Moderate BIM” technology; they employed a 3D model to develop the design, present ideas to the client, and generate all the elevations and sections up to the planning stage. Then, they exported the 3D model to Cinema 4D to produce high-quality renderings and animations. With a direct export plugin between Vectorworks Architect and Cinema 4D, the modeling, rendering, and animating in the two programs was seamless.

Sustainable Goals

Since Gloucestershire County Council ranks sustainability at the top of its priorities, the teams worked together to devise a number of eco-friendly solutions — from climate-controlled classrooms, to solar-heated water, to strict eco-principles for the school’s maintenance. They also designed digital energy-use readouts and wind catchers so that the children could get in on the energy-saving venture.

Then, Kingsway Primary went a step beyond the actual structure with sustainable practices, mandating a car-free environment. The children walk, use scooters, ride bicycles, or take skates and skateboards to school.

For these and other efforts in sustainable design, Kingsway Primary was rewarded with a BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of "very good." It’s the leading environmental assessment method for buildings worldwide.

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