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Education Government & Local Authorities Products Projects Roofing & Cladding



Designing and constructing a new school is a major project for any community, especially when it involves replacing a village school building that has served the local population for the past 100 years. 

This was the design challenge set by Sunderland City Council’s Children’s Services Primary Strategy for Change as part of its long-term policy to ensure local primary schools deliver a learning and working environment fit for the 21st century. Thankfully, Marley Eternit’s Edgemere interlocking slate provided the perfect finish to St Joseph’s Primary School in Millfield, Sunderland, achieving the desired traditional aesthetic, whilst at the same time delivering a quality contemporary feel.

In addition to modernising its building and facilities, the school design needed to sit seamlessly within its locality, an area where Victorian red brick and slate roofed terraced housing dominate the landscape, with these traditional materials reflected within the overall design. The design team were also mindful of the requirement that such a product needed to sit alongside more contemporary materials such as render and, ultimately, strike the right balance for a modern two-storey building that also portrayed a strong individual character. 

Ray Snaith, senior architect, Design Services at Sunderland City Council, outlines the challenge for the new school’s architectural vision.  He says: “The goal was that the new school is fit for 21st century learning, but at the same time acknowledges the character of the original primary school, the traditions of the local community and relates harmoniously to its adjoining areas.”

Marley Eternit’s Edgemere interlocking slate played a central role in helping the design meet its brief.  Specified in a smooth grey colour and used on a roof space encompassing 1,500m2, the aesthetic impact of the Edgemere slate – whose clean and precise slate-like appearance is enhanced by a thin leading edge – is a wholly appropriate roofing solution to suit the location.  Its traditional style blends with the specified dark red stock brick, fascias and soffits perfectly.

Using Edgemere interlocking slate delivered many benefits to the project, as Gavin White, marketing project manager at Marley Eternit, explains: “Though there is often a strong desire to use natural slate, Edgemere allows specifiers and contractors to achieve a slate like appearance, on a concrete tile budget, as in the case of St Joseph’s School, but with markedly reduced costs and increased construction flexibility.

“The slate-like appearance of Edgemere is further enhanced by its thin leading edge and the broken-bond laying technique.  At only 18mm thick and sleek in appearance, Edgemere tiles can be viewed as an affordable alternative to natural slate or a cost effective upgrade from standard concrete interlocking tiles.”

Edgemere slate has also offered the project additional outstanding environmental credentials to go with its aesthetic strengths. Specifying Edgemere can now make a significant contribution towards excellence under BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes. An A+ rating available under the BRE green guide to specification and recent accreditation to the BES6001 framework standard for responsible sourcing means that extra credits are available to the specifier when choosing Edgemere.

Ray Snaith concludes: “Marley Eternit provided informed technical advice and a full NBS specification during the design process which was very helpful.   The role played by Edgemere interlocking slates across key areas such as appearance, ease of installation, performance characteristics and cost, has been very important to the scheme.

“This was a challenging brief to create a modern public building within a traditional setting.  The successful integration of the new development within its surrounding context has been fundamental to achieving a successful outcome, and our ability to utilise innovative roofing solutions such as the Edgemere slate has supported us in achieving this.”

 For further information on our range at www.marleyeternit.co.uk  01283 722588