Digital Skills Academy

Client Askham Bryan College
Date 2021
Location York
Value £550,000.00
Design Team
Quantity Surveyor: Aspect 4
Mechanical & Electrical: Betton Consulting
Structural Engineer: Adept

The new Digital Skills Academy at Askham Bryan College is located within the historic core of the campus as an extension to the Learning Resource Centre, which was originally constructed as a dairy block. The new facilities will include a centre of excellence for mixed reality. This technology merges the real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time. It is increasingly being used within the agricultural industry.

The design of the Digital Skills Academy draws upon the vernacular of the surrounding buildings to create a coherent and collegiate centre for the campus. The adjacent Main Building and former dairy block were the first buildings to be built on the campus in the 1930s and have the most architectural value within the wider college campus context. The form, scale and materiality of these buildings have informed the architectural approach for the new extension

The extension is designed with a cloister facing towards the main building to the east, forming a courtyard arrangement with the existing buildings. The colonnade provides a rhythm and order that helps the proposals nestle within the regimented and symmetrical context, whilst providing solar shading and a sheltered outdoor seating area. A series of irregular pitched roof forms, re-interpret the hipped roofs of the surrounding buildings, to suggest a series of more contemporary spaces. These roofs emphasise the key internal spaces and incorporate generous north-facing roof lights to provide even natural light and stack ventilation on hot summer days.

The materials palette has been selected to complement the character of the existing college buildings. The locally sourced handmade multi-red brick is selected to match the immediate context and the standing seam roofs tonally reflect the surrounding slate roofs whilst referencing the wider agricultural setting. The pitched roof forms are bordered by a sedum green roof allowing the building to blend into the green background when viewed from the adjacent high-level windows.

Environmental ambitions for the project were established early in the concept stage. We were seeking to design for the long-term to match the longevity and quality of the neighbouring 1930's buildings. The embodied carbon of alternative construction methodologies was assessed, helping to inform more environmentally conscious decisions.