Brick Manufacturer: Michelmersh PLC
Architect: Van Heyningen and Haward Architects
Brickwork Contractor: Caxton Builders (Midlands) Limited
About the project
Houlton School repurposes the imposing brick transmitter building, C Station, built in 1926-29 for the GPO Rugby Radio Station, which is Grade II listed. Creative adaptation and retrofit of the historic building is combined with three state-of-the-art new blocks, to create a new 1260 place secondary school and sixth form. The school has been delivered by the master developer, Urban & Civic PLC, working directly with the DfE.
We set out to create excellent education facilities, to celebrate Rugby Radio Station’s heritage, and to completely integrate the School in the Houlton masterplan; maximising its social, environmental, and heritage legacies.
For Rugby Borough Council and Historic England, restoration of the building balanced the impacts of the conversion. For the DfE, the energy performance of the building was fundamental. So the treatment of the façade brickwork was fundamental to gaining consents from the statutory authorities and the main funder.
The listed buildings have solid brick walls, up to c.900mm thick. Their performance has been transformed using a lime and woodfibre ‘moisture-open’ internal wall insulation. Careful detailing creates continuous insulation and an air barrier. It is vital that the walls shed water, to minimise water ingress, so all facades, with their rich brickwork detailing, were painstakingly repaired and repointed by Concrete Renovations Ltd, also restoring their character.
Samples of brick and mortar were removed for testing and this informed our specification, showing that ‘Junction Buckley’ bricks (from Mold, Clywd) and the Ruabon tile decorative course were laid in a weak cement lime mortar. Working with Morgan Sindall, and helped by several sample panels, we specified various blends of Michelmersh’s Charnwood bricks for the repairs and alterations.