The Isle of Sheppey is known as the UK’s cradle of aviation. A few years after Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic inaugural biplane flight in North Carolina, the brothers visited Sheppey. Balloon manufacturing was already well established in the area, but aeroplane construction soon took over. By the Second World War, the local airfields had become filled with Spitfires carrying out training exercises.
In 2009 Kent County Council approached Hartwell Architects to design a new primary school on a greenfield site in Eastchurch. As a tribute to the island’s aviation history, the architects gave the school a dramatic roofline, inspired by a Spitfire wing.
The school’s acoustic design was entrusted to Adrian James Acoustics, and our brief was to achieve a “Very Good” BREEAM rating, along with BB93 compliance. The school is partly open-plan and naturally ventilated. With the site relatively close to a busy road, we collaborated closely with both the architect and landscape architect, advising on features such as earth embankments to act as acoustic barriers to reduce traffic noise.
We also overcame further technical challenges such as developing a special roofing/ceiling system to control rain noise from the metal roof and designing the acoustic treatment of rooftop wind catchers. Interior features included specifications for a high-performance partition between two classrooms and the acoustic design of the multi-purpose hall. This involved extensive CATT modelling.
Upon completion Kent County Council’s Education Chief, Cllr. Sarah Hohler described the school as “an outstanding building”.
It is certainly a unique design which proved an interesting acoustic challenge. We can only wonder what the Wright brothers would have made of it.