For St John Fisher School we helped deliver a new sports hall and teaching facilities, and the refurbishment of existing blocks. We devised timber panel solutions for the two new structures — this is the largest solid timber panel school project in the UK.
When we came on board, the architect's proposal was to use loadbearing brick and precast concrete planks. Analysis led us to propose prefabricated timber panel structures. By taking a flat-pack approach, labour costs were reduced and money saved, convincing the school to commit to using 900 cubic metres of timber. Our approach shaved 14 weeks off the construction programme.
Previous first-hand experience of working with this system enabled us to take full design responsibility. Using 230mm thick cross-laminated panels of spruce from managed resources, we exploited the timber's natural strength to construct loadbearing walls, floors and roofs — eliminating the need for beams. The sports hall uses wall panels 12m high. Window frames are fitted directly into the timber frame minus wind posts.
The thermal mass of the solid timber structures matches that of traditional construction, helping the buildings meet their energy targets. Fire risk is reduced by the solid weight of wood. Floor coverings are isolated to help achieve acoustic deadening. Construction of the timber shells was completed in six weeks.