Pursuit of Excellence

Delivered as part of wider regeneration of Birmingham’s Perry Barr, Prince Albert High School marries innovation in the built environment as well as in teaching model.

Funded through the Department of Education’s Construction Framework and operated by the Prince Albert Community Trust, Prince Albert High School will open its doors to its first intake of students in September this year [2021].

Ultimately providing places for 1,260 pupils across 4,103sqm of teaching spaces for children aged 11 up to sixth form, the project also forms part of the Brirmingham City Council’s wider regeneration of the Perry Barr area.

Designed by architects AHR, and working for main contractor Galliford Try, we were appointed to supply more than 1,500m2 of aluminium curtain walling and windows into a four-storey superblock. The design of which was developed by the architects to minimise building footprint and to deliver maximum classroom and teaching space, as well as open spaces outside.

It also reflected the specific requirements created by the homebase teaching model developed by the Trust. This places pupils in a single classroom for all core subjects, with each year group located in a different part of the building.

Our approach

Working with the architects and main contractor, we developed a design in the SF52 and SF62 curtain walling systems from Senior Architectural Systems and SPW600 commercial aluminium windows.

We combined the framing system with high performance IGU’s manufactured in a 6mm Saint Gobain SKN 176 Coolite with 16mm argon filled cavity and 6.8mm internal pane, to deliver a u-value of 1.6W/m2K and enhanced level of solar control with a 0.4G-value.

This also allowed us to provide an increased level of sound insulation with an acoustic reduction value 34db.

Additional considerations

Curtain walling needs to be designed to include built-in tolerances to accommodate what is ultimately an unknown level of movement as the steel frame settles and moves over time.

This can drop by as much as 20mm depending on the span and distance from uprights. The net effect of this is that that movement can place pressure on the façade and can cause glass units to move and tilt inwards or crack.

This makes use of brackets offering sufficient levels of tolerance a critical element in systems design.

In this specific project because curtain walling made up large areas of the elevation, we adapted our design to include the SF62 from Senior.

This features a larger 62mm box, providing increased glass coverage, allowing for a greater level of movement in structural steels.

Using it on a single elevation, identified in the movement and tolerance report as having the largest steel spans and where movement had the potential to be greatest, we were able to support the main contractor in controlling costs but also accommodate a higher level of movement if required to do so.

“We manufacture curtain walling to be 100% true and perfect in what is an imperfect world. Making it work and building in enough tolerances to accommodate settling or sagging in steel over time is a key challenge in any project.

“Over-engineering can inflate costs but at the same time through life performance is paramount. We work with architects, engineers and main contractors to understand potential movement and deliver solutions that guarantee performance, while also delivering best value.”

Paul Stevens, Commercial Director, Acorn Aluminium

We developed a design in the SF52 and SF62 curtain walling systems from Senior Architectural Systems and SPW600 commercial aluminium windows.
Product overview Senior Architectural Systems SPW600 aluminium commercial window system

The Senior SPW600 is a highly versatile 75mm window system, while its also available in the SPW600e enhanced thermal option, which uses additional thermal inserts on top of the latest polyamide thermal breaking technologies used across the range. Accommodating glass units of up to 56mm, this combines to create a highly cost-effective commercial window capable of achieving a BFRC A Rating. 

  • Energy efficient three chamber 75mm system using Polyamide thermal breaking technologies to deliver an enhanced level of thermal performance
  • Available in top and side hung casement options including inward opening and tilt-and-turn options
  • Achieves a BFRC A Rating
  • U-values as low as 1.3W/m2K
  • Enhanced security Secured by Design compliant option
Product overview Senior Architectural Systems SF52 and SF62 Curtain Walling

The SF52 curtain walling system from Senior Systems, draws on ‘all the best bits’ from Senior’s other curtain walling systems and brings them together into a single offer!

It’s defined by a consistent slim 52mm sightline, delivering levels of thermal efficiency far beyond current building regulations.

It also offers an exceptional level of flexibility and is suitable for both ground floor and high-rise applications, with full weather testing to CWCT and EN13830.

It has a life expectancy of 40 years or more and is 100% recyclable at end of life.

Senior Systems SF52 aluminium curtain walling:

  • Can be assembled in any combination of capped, vertically capped, horizontally capped or silicone glazed to create a unique external facade. A variety of caps allows even more aesthetic possibilities.
  • Choose from Zone drained or Mullion drained (fully capped only).
  • Large range of transom & mullion sizes with additional reinforcing sleeves and boxes from 50-250mm plus the option of concealed steel reinforcing to allow larger spans.
  • Raked heads for a range of apex angles can be achieved using a specially designed shear block.
  • Fully compatible with any of our windows (including frameless vents) plus both manual and automated doors.
  • Available in an almost unlimited choice of colours and finishes both externally and internally.
  • End Client: Department of Education/ Prince Albert Community Trust
  • Completed Summer 2021
  • Commercial partners: architects AHR. Main contractor Galliford Try. Glass Saint Gobain
  • Four storey superblock accommodating 32 traditional classrooms and 27 specialist learning spaces
  • Casement windows in Senior Architectural Systems SPW600 commercial aluminium window system
  • SF52 and SF62 aluminium curtain walling designed manufactured and installed by Acorn Aluminium
Closing thoughts

“The architect created a design which minimised the footprint of the building creating new open spaces across the site. It was important that that sense of openness carried through into the building itself.

“The glazing options specified and ultimately adopted in this project fulfilled this element of the brief, creating light open and airy learning spaces. We also worked effectively with partners to accommodate key technical challenges, guaranteeing through life performance.”

Paul Stevens, Commercial Director, Acorn Aluminium

For more information, please contact:

Paul Stevens, Commercial Director, Acorn Aluminium

tel. 0115 9282166

mob, 07721128254



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