Case Study:

Assembly Hall Extension


Services Used:

  • Education
  • Multi Purpose



The Client

Our client on this project was Edgbaston High School for Girls, which has contributed significantly to the educational reputation of Birmingham, since the school was founded in 1876 by George Dixon and distinguished local families from the Quaker and Unitarian communities.

With almost 900 pupils, it is a school committed to providing the highest quality of education for girls at every stage of their development. The most recent inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate reported; ‘the quality of the pupils’ achievement and learning is excellent.

Whilst the school respects its heritage, it is committed to an ongoing programme of improvements in facilities at the School, to ensure pupils enjoy the most rewarding learning experience possible.



The Project

Align Architecture were appointed to design a new, fully-glazed extension of the main Assembly Hall, within the inner courtyard. At approximately 84m2, the space was to be used for a variety of activities, including dining, physical education, year group assemblies, house meetings.

The school wanted the space as somewhere students could be educated, could relax and entertain, whilst also functioning as a social space for events.

Also required, was a free-standing walkway with a glazed roof, along the rear of the Assembly Hall to ensure pupils, staff and visitors can walk between the various buildings without getting wet when it rains.

It is essential for the school to not only improve facilities, but make more efficient use of the space, given the inability to expand beyond the sites current boundaries.

The Design

The extension and glazed covered walkway were bespoke solutions we designed to relate to the site context and compliment the setting of neighbouring listed buildings in Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We wanted the design to reflect the use of glazing in the surrounding garden structures.

The extension provides a variety of uses, including dining, sports, lecturing, presentation, drama and dance, with the new space accessed directly from the main Assembly Hall, or externally from the inner courtyard.

The curtain walling, framed by the primary steel column and beam structure, forms the fully glazed facades and is constructed of high quality powder-coated aluminium glazing bars with solar control double glazed units.

It was important to design the site lines and colour of the steel frame, along with the curtain walling, to reflect the existing adjacent façades of other school buildings.

We designed the composite metal-finished insulated roof, to reflect the style and appearance of the rooves on adjacent buildings to ensure the extension comfortably blended into its surroundings.

The use of proprietary prefabricated specialist materials and components, not only ensured a high quality finish, but reduced the assembly time on site, which increases energy efficiency and reduces waste.

The form of the building envelope and its arrangement was carefully considered and designed in a compact form to make efficient use of the available land.

The main interior space provides good levels of natural daylight, which reduces the need for artificial light and the opportunity to utilise natural ventilation, further reduces energy demands.

The extension was constructed to meet current building regulations with high levels of air tightness and insulation to avoid heat loss. The main key energy efficient features of the extension are:

  • Controlled internal environment to comply with current Department for Education Guidelines on Ventilation, Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality in Schools;
  • Passive stack natural ventilation providing a steady supply of fresh air;
  • Solar control double glazing;
  • Energy efficient perimeter trench heating;
  • Energy efficient Fan coil cooling units;
  • LED lighting.

The Work

The construction works were carefully programmed in conjunction with the school and the principal contractor was appointed on the basis of their proven experience of working in a live school environment – it was important they were also a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

In recent years the school has gained valuable experience in undertaking major construction projects within the school campus, whilst maintaining the day-to-day running of the school and avoiding impact upon the local community and infrastructure.

Demolition was required to carefully remove the existing paved surfaces, which were retained for reinstatement once the extension and glazed walkways were completed.

The existing external façade of the main Assembly Hall remained, with exception of localised careful demolition of the existing window cill to allow a physical link directly with the extension.

Roof lights were also installed into the flat roof over the main Assembly Hall, close to the extension, to allow daylight and ventilation into the hall.

The extension has minimal impact upon the existing landscape of the school and only required careful modification of the existing local soft landscaping.

Any plants or shrubs affected by the extension were carefully removed and re-planted elsewhere within the school campus, with new ornamental trees introduced as part of the works.

The Outcome

The extension forms a critical part of the school’s long-term aspirations to enhance the facilities as part of the ongoing commitment to deliver educational excellence.

Our design established the following key design principles:

  • To use the land efficiently to provide new facilities needed by the school;
  • To respect the scale and setting of the buildings locally by proposing a single storey structure below the established parapet line which is transparent in appearance to enhance the character of the surrounding area;
  • To create a visually strong frontage and an attractive new facility when viewed from the inner courtyard.

Align Architecture assisted at every stage, from assessment and design through to planning application and construction.

We combine genuine creativity, with a pragmatic approach to design to ensure our client enjoyed a smooth transition of their project from aspiration to realisation.

If you would like to discuss your next project with the team at Align, please get in touch so we can come and listen to what you’re planning.

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