Highfields Automotive and Engineering Training CentreEdit profile
The Highfields Automotive and Engineering Training Centre, Castle College provides high-level training in automotive design, maintenance and repair across a range of age groups. The college works in partnership with Toyota, sharing facilities, teaching and training people already working in the automotive industry alongside students and school children, directly linking city’s universities and further education colleges with industry. The wider development site has been bought by Blueprint, a Property Regeneration Partnership set up to deliver new solutions for physical regeneration in the East Midlands. The Partnership comprises East Midlands Development Agency English Partnerships and Morley Fund Management’s Igloo Regeneration Fund. The designers’ brief was to bring a fresh perspective to the traditional business park model which has become very staid. The Masterplan is generated from these main elements: - A pond or water meadow creating a sustainable urban drainage system. - A series of banks that define a natural edge and platform from which to engage with the pond. - A lilypad trail - a playful path that delicately crosses the pond from University Park and a future NET tram stop, towards the existing nature reserve at Dunkirk Pond and Beeston Sidings. - A sequence of buildings that hover delicately above the man made landscape, embracing and sheltering a series of gardens. - A central pedestrian spine – the lilypad boardwalk – off which are arranged the science buildings. The site approach explored themes of the relationship between science and nature. The sustainable urban drainage system allows the local ecosystem to thrive while the remaining site – heavily contaminated by previous uses – recovers. The building’s brown roofs further encourage local species to re-colonise the site. The building itself has been designed to allow future installation of a biomass boiler providing sustainable energy. The scheme successfully connects into and strengthens the local ecosystem and public transport links and in doing so it brings a previously redundant brownfield site back into commission. The form of the new Castle College building derives from the cranked linear footprints of the other buildings on the masterplan - like a new species from the same family. The two wings occupied by Castle College and Toyota are linked by a shared hub and the extended office/ workshop/laboratory wings reach out across the landscape sheltering and screening cars and storage spaces below. The hub contains all the communal spaces shared between the College and Toyota Academy. It will act as the ‘public face ‘of the building welcoming trainees and hosting conferences, marketing and cultural events. Three storeys high, the hub is a landmark on the lilypad walk through the centre of the site attracting people towards it. Clad predominantly in glazed curtain walling, it is shaded by 160 capsule-shaped perforated panels held away from the glass on horizontal cables, which in turn are supported by a tapering steel exoskeleton, forming a facetted cone around the building. On the roof, machinery is screened by a metal mesh redolent of the woven laths of classic car grilles. The large volumes of the workshops are clad in finely ribbed silver composite panels and are supported by rows of smooth, circular concrete columns. The smaller training blocks are clad in a riot of mixed greens, nestling around and softening the bulk of the workshops, in places floating over a plinth of gabion walling. Horizontal capsule-shaped windows take a dance along the faces of the training rooms and within the courtyard are deployed at alternating angles to enliven the sheer faces of the workshop walls. Blueprint ran an invited competition for the site masterplan and first buildings on site in November 2005. Construction work began in January 2007 and the centre was completed in January 2008 for the first intake of students in April. The final construction cost was £9.2 million for a 6600sqm building giving a floor area cost of £1390/sqm.