Project Description

Reepham College, Norwich


Creation of large open space learning areas and classrooms with large areas of natural lighting.


Hybrid construction using precast and partial steel frame provided support for long spans required and by using Deltabeams downstands were minimised.


Direct decoration of high quality ex-mould precast surfaces. Structural frame components in concrete and steel manufactured offsite under closely controlled quality conditions sourced from several suppliers.


Hybrid structure constructed on site in less than 7 weeks. Offsite factory cast insulated precast concrete panels with external architectural finish used to form solid perimeters dramatically reducing the number of different trades required on site to achieve an equivalent form of structure.

Hybrid structure constructed on site in less than 7 weeks

The new £5 million college has a precast concrete central core comprising wall units, floors, beams, stairways and hollowcore units all manufactured off-site and erected to a just-in-time delivery schedule.

Architects for the project set out with the aim of achieving high thermal performance levels, the lowest possible energy demand (energy footprint) and the highest levels of comfort for the users of the building.

The benefits of concrete

The use of precast concrete contributed substantially to the creation of a high thermal mass building where energy conservation and comfort levels were paramount. The use of twin-skinned insulated panels provides a 20% improvement over Building Regulation U values, making a useful contribution to the BREEAM rating.

Advanced environmental systems

Concept architect Teather+Walls of Norwich set out to design a building that would take account of current needs for the lowest running costs and the effects that climate change might have in the future. From the outset, the college building was designed with the aim of achieving a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’.

Concrete ceilings in the building were left exposed to exploit the ability of concrete to act as a large ‘radiator’ providing a cooling effect in summer and warmth in the winter.

These qualities have been enhanced by the inclusion of advanced environmental systems in the design, providing controls over both temperatures and C02 levels. In summer, the building can benefit from night purge, with the cool night air automatically allowed in via electrically controlled apertures to lower the fabric temperature, resulting in high daytime comfort levels.

This removes the need for expensive cooling systems. In winter, the high ‘built in’ insulation levels of the precast concrete walls and proprietary fenestration minimise the amount of heat ‘spilled’ from the building.

Further information

Kier case study »

Teather+Walls case study »

Precast concrete for educational facilities »

Images shown above

  1. Reepham Sixth Form College, front elevation.
  2. Precast concrete outer skin at educational facility in Norfolk.
  3. The exterior combines the clean lines of precast concrete with natural wood feature panels.
  4. The design allows for the maximum amount of usable space.
  5. Large learning areas offer flexibility to subdivide into smaller rooms.
  6. Roof beam arrangement with sound insulation.
  7. Design combines clean lines for link areas that exploit natural light.

Location: Reepham College, Norwich, Norfolk, UK

Owner: Norfolk County Council

Architect: NPS Group

Concept architect: Teather+Walls

Contractor: Keir

Project: New sixth form building

Hollowcore floor units used to provide pitched roof structure to provide thermal mass and support photo voltaic cells.

Precast concrete units helped to create a high mass building enabling a stable thermal environment and comfort levels being economically and easily maintained.

Delivery of components to site carefully controlled on a “just in time” basis to prevent  unnecessary handling and stacking.

Groundworks began during December, with the erection of the precast concrete elements carried out in just 31 working days over December and January, despite poor weather.