dRMM, the award-winning studio of architects and designers, has employed Knauf Aquapanel Exterior to deliver an eye-catching but functional design detail in its design for the newly-rebuilt Four Dwellings Primary School, a £4.5 million BSF project in Quinton, Birmingham.

The designer wanted external toilet pods that were tightly curved, echoing the ovoid footprint of the overall building, and tiled in bright colours – a demanding brief for which Knauf Aquapanel Exterior was ideal.

“The product proved to be very versatile,” said architect Adam Cossey. “We needed a substrate for the tiles that could also fit the tight radius that we needed. This material can be bent into shape and then screwed to a timber frame to achieve the curves and acts both as a substrate for the tiles and as weatherproofing to protect the various trades during construction.”

The concept behind the pods is that children can access them from both inside their classrooms and outside from the playground, where the curves mean that there are no sharp edges to cause injury. The coloured external tiles are arranged as such so the pods provide a colour range that identifies and distinguishes each year group as well as acting as a ‘wayfinding’ device.

dRMM has won critical acclaim and awards for its buildings, the most recent being Clapham Manor Primary School, which was shortlisted for the Stirling prize. The group’s involvement in rebuilding Four Dwellings came from dRMM’s involvement in the Birmingham BSF framework led by Birmingham Lend Lease Partnership.

A robust, non-combustible building panel made of aggregated Portland cement, Knauf Aquapanel Exterior has coated glass fibre mesh embedded in its back and front that forms the ideal substrate for render.

As shown at Four Dwellings Primary School, the board requires no special tools or processes for installation – simply score and snap – and can be curved to a tight radius. Offering all the benefits of a dry panel system with the strength of brick and block, the board resists water with no swelling or loss of stability, is weatherproof and is unaffected by the freeze-thaw cycle.

Other Knauf products were used extensively in constructing the school, with classroom and corridor walls being constructed using Soundshield and Impact Panel while the ceiling were made using Wallboard.

Soundshield high performance plasterboard enables the teaching areas to meet the strict standards laid down by Building Bulletin 93: Acoustic Design of Schools using just one layer of plasterboard rather than two while Knauf Impact Panel provides a superb, durable finish that is easily repaired should any damage occur. The walls and ceiling were then skimmed using Knauf Drywall MP Finish and Universal Board Finish to provide a smooth, quick-drying and durable coating ready for painting.

Knauf has developed a range of proven systems that meet the specific design challenges for walls, ceilings and floors set by schools and colleges, which mainly concern the acoustic characteristics, fire performance and durability of materials.

Its Project and Specification team is well versed in the design requirements of education projects and can provide hands-on support and advice throughout on larger projects.