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DLA Completes Next Phase of Redevelopment Masterplan for Oaklands College

DLA Architecture (@DLAarchitecture) has completed and handed over phase two of the £62 million redevelopment masterplan for Oaklands College (@oaklandscollege) at its St Albans Campus.

The £13.4 million ‘Evolution Centre’ provides 49 classrooms, including one science classroom, six dedicated ICT rooms alongside new office space for staff. There is also a dedicated wing for Pathway 4 special needs students.

It forms part of an overall four-phase masterplan to redevelop the entire St Albans Campus to provide a more energy efficient and secure state of the art learning facility. The poor quality, out of date elements of the existing site will be refurbished or demolished.

As well as the Phase two new teaching accommodation and Phase one student accommodation, the new campus masterplan will include a further two phases. Phases three and four will provide new workshops for gas, electrical, construction and wet trades, administration areas, learning resource centre, a refectory and sports pavilion with gymnasium and studio facilities.

DLA has previously designed Phase one, The Homestead, which now provides high quality residential accommodation for students. The concept for the Homestead was based on a collection of farm buildings with a communal ‘Farmhouse’ and includes three wings with 83 ensuite study bedrooms and a student social hub on the edge of the campus. It is framed by a forest to the West and the College’s Equine and Animal care zone to the North.

DLA is retained to design phases three and four at St Albans Campus. The final phase will also see the creation of a college square in front of the gateway building which will finish the masterplan and create a focal point for the transformed campus.

Chris Levett, Director at DLA Architecture, said,

“We are delighted to reach this next significant milestone in the phased redevelopment of Oaklands College due to completed in 2024. The Evolution Centre is a critical part of the learning and teaching experience at St Albans Campus and as such our design approach sought to deliver an inviting building that acknowledges the Colleges agricultural history whilst at the same time providinghighly modern, flexible spaces.

“The majority of the building is clad in vertical square profile black cladding. Clay brown pockets of horizonal cladding break up the mass and provide a warmth in areas of the building where visitors, staff and students pass through. The dominant cladding is designed with diagonal sloping parapets, helping to conceal the roof plant but also bring a drama and excitement to the building form. Ensuring that the integrity and strength of the design was retained after many rounds of value engineering the retention of the high-quality cladding was a key priority.

“Throughout the design process we were mindful of meeting pressures of the overall cost plan whilst ensuring comfort for occupiers, now and in the future climate. Working alongside delivery partners, Willmott Dixon, Fusion Project Management, Couch Perry & Wilkes, SWECO UK, and Stroma, we have managed to deliver this project on budget, despite the many challenges presented by the live environment and the pandemic.”

Andrew Slade, Principal and CEO Oaklands College, said,

“This marks an important stage in our campus development. It is fitting that we deliver a state-of-the-art teaching facility for our students in the year where we mark our centenary and as we look to the future and our next 100 years. Oaklands has a rich heritage in providing 100 years of transformational education and this significant new teaching facility will play an important part in our building on that proud tradition.”

DLA Architecture is an award-winning practice which employs over 75 architects, landscape architects, technologists, and graphic designers. Established over 40 years ago the practice has offices in London, Leeds, and Manchester.  Its expertise covers a broad range of sector including learning, sport, industry, care, workplace, housing, retail, conservation, and re-use.

DLA’s experience in the learning and student accommodation sectors is considerable. It most recently completed the new Esther Simpson Building, an important gateway site to Leeds University Business School.

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