Sheppard Robson fires up £23m auto school plans

Interiors form an integral part of a £23m scheme by architect and interiors group Sheppard Robson, phase two of which was submitted for detailed planning permission this week. The Centre of Manufacturing Excellence in Dagenham, Essex will provide further and higher education training in automotive technology.

The project’s phase one interiors, comprising further education facilities, are now being finalised and include a street area that runs along the front of the building and the training and workshop areas. Both phases will be finished for the start of the 2003 academic year.

Sheppard Robson project architect Graeme Fisher says interiors have combined high-end technology with the kind of colour psychology associated with the more traditional side of interior design.

‘It’s an industrial-looking space and we’re looking to add colour,’ says Sheppard Robson senior interior designer Kathryn Brown.

Core areas of the building use colour to provide a ‘way-finding’ element, she says. The waiting area uses blue to promote calmness, magenta/aubergine denotes the café area, and a ‘greeny-yellow’ indicates the technology area.

An effort has been made to use natural materials, particularly for the street furniture.

Specialist lighting design for phase one has been provided by LAPD. The street area contains customised gull-wing uplighters that are dropped from the ceiling, to create ‘a soft, diffused effect down on to the pavement with no direct source,’ according to LAPD partner Glenn Campion.

Phase two will contain a higher technological specification in all areas because it caters for higher education, says Fisher.

Sheppard Robson was appointed in December 2001 following a credentials pitch against groups from around Europe.

Havering and Barking Colleges are moving their motor vehicle and associated technology courses to the centre, and Loughborough and Warwick Universities have also expressed interest in placing students at the centre.

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