The Aisher boarding house, Sevenoaks School
VELFAC aluminium / timber windows and doors are a major element within every façade, with the slim, low-energy frame increasing daylight in private and communal spaces, and delivering both external durability and a more ‘domestic’ interior finish.
This combination was one reason why the VELFAC system was specified, says TRA: ‘We’ve used all-metal systems in previous school projects but wanted a more homely interior for Aisher House, which we achieved with the white-painted timber frames.’ Windows bring light into study bedrooms, kitchens and common rooms, with the manually operated side-hung units also part of the building’s natural ventilation system. ‘Aisher House is an international community which led to many discussions about window usability, as every boy feels differently about the English climate,’ the architects explain. ‘This meant it was important to allow boys to control ventilation manually, with window restrictors in place to ensure their safety.’
Aisher House has been designed on Passivhaus principles, using sustainable Cross-Laminated Timber construction, and meets low energy targets. VELFAC double glazed units provided the thermal performance needed to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating. The VELFAC system was also very cost effective, says TRA: ‘It was a great advantage to be able to use double-glazing - it’s less expensive than triple glazing and as the units are much lighter they are much easier to install, and easier for the boys to open and close. It also helped us to meet our low energy targets within the budget set by Sevenoaks School.’
The distinctive exterior of Aisher House features handmade brick and tile facades below pitched roofs of natural zinc, with the pale colour palette, textural finish and window placement deliberately reflecting the nearby 19th century Park Grange boarding house. ‘We wanted to celebrate the window as an object within the façade, rather than being simply in a hole in the wall,’ say the architects, ‘so we designed pressed metal ‘picture frames’ around every window and door, which sit in both the brick and tile elements of the façade.’ The minimalist VELFAC ‘one piece’ frame design – where window sash becomes window frame when closed – proved ideal for TRA’s design concept: ‘White polyester powder-coated VELFAC units were the neatest and cleanest solution, and deliver the maximum of glass and the minimum of frame in every window.’
Architect: Tim Ronalds Architects