Ashton Sixth Form - GA Studio
When modern art inspiration meets architecture, the results are often astounding. This is certainly the case with GA Studio’s recently completed reception and entrance area for Ashton Sixth Form College. Construction was completed in May 2014. The college, which is currently pushing to attain university status by offering certain BA programmes and foundation courses in affiliation with other local universities, now has a look that brings it right in line with the most impressive, contemporary university designs in the UK.
The contrast between the new, Equitone clad, angular entrance, and the old, red-brick girl’s entrance alongside is fascinating. The new space is entirely defined by angular lines, and these are emphasised on the exterior in the way the structure seems to fall in on itself as it moves closer to the doorway. The angular lines on the exterior serve a purpose, however, as GA Studio designed the scheme to capture as much natural light as possible. The interior follows the same pattern of sharp, extended lines and tight angles, and emphasises them with the use of white LED lighting strips throughout the ceiling panelling, but also inset into the custom-built reception desk.
The desk itself was built by Lomax interiors from a special material known as Equitone. It is a fibre cement facade material that is available in a range of colours and shades. The effect of the fibrous material is such that the hues appear naturally occurring, regardless of the colour, as they shift and change in different lighting and shading effects.
All the effort of this £550,000 scheme has not been in vain, with the project being featured by prestigious publications such as the Architect’s Journal and Architecture + Detail. It has also gained national recognition by collecting awards at various regional architectural ceremonies, not least at the Northern Design Awards, where it was shortlisted for the Commercial Build category, and won the Innovative Design category for 2014. It was also recognised at the Manchester Architect’s Awards in 2016, finishing as runner-up in both the Community Built category and the prestigious President’s Choice Built category.