Fifth Trust News


Building better

28 October 2021

The design of our new skills centre at Barham may be rooted in the past but the way the new buildings are being constructed harnesses the latest in modern technology.

Sustainability is at the core of the redevelopment, which will use air source heat pumps to eliminate dependency on gas boilers and has highly thermally efficient structural insulated panels (SIPs) as the main building fabric, to reduce heat loss in the winter.

In Kent-based architects HMY’s design, local residents may recognise the influence of the former railway station at Barham, as well as the area’s distinctive metal-clad barns. Large roof overhangs will provide a sheltered space for our students to gather together outside, whatever the weather.

The three buildings, which will provide a spacious amenity hub and light-filled classrooms for art, media and photography, also feature cedar shingles and sweet chestnut cladding to soften the effect of the profiled metal sheeting and help reduce the development’s embodied carbon – the amount of CO2 emitted in producing all the materials used.

As well as a being beautiful place for our current students and staff to work, the new skills centre will give us the space and accessibility to open up our day care services to more adults with learning disabilities. Our aim is to support 180 students every week, including those with profound physical conditions.

“We know there is urgent need to be met and we look forward to welcoming more students to The Fifth Trust next year,” said CEO Nikki Marley. “For all of us watching the new development take shape, the excitement is really building now and we cannot wait to start using these fantastic new facilities.”

The new skills centre, which will replace 30-year-old huts way past their prime, is the result of a fundraising campaign which has seen us secure over £1.6 million in grants and donations from members of the public, companies and other charitable bodies. If you would like to make a donation, please visit Thank you.