School of the future passes the green test

LATEST building techniques, environmentally-sound design and innovative use of materials are about to transform UK primary schools.

The framework partnership, "Framework One", between Manchester City Council and constructor partners has provided the blueprint for this new era.

Yorkshire firm Robinson Architects is heavily involved in the scheme, which has been designed by its managing director Alan Soper.

It is sponsoring a seminar called Future Construction? The Business Case for Sustainable Building at the Round Foundry in Leeds on October 12 to further encourage the building sector to recognise and apply new sustainable approaches and techniques.

The first of these new high quality primary school buildings, and the benchmark against which others will be measured, is the 4.6m Green End Primary in Manchester, while in Bradford, All Saints Primary School is currently undergoing similar reconstruction work at a cost of 4.45 m.

Through a number of innovations at Green End Primary School that include sophisticated insulation of the building, an underfloor heating system and natural, passive ventilation, the design has enabled energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions. The most striking design feature of the two storey development is its central atria space allowing natural light to flood the internal space.

Full height classroom windows allow traditional lighting to be turned off for long periods saving energy and reducing harmful C02 emissions.

The teaching areas benefit from a new dynamic lighting technology, allowing for both variable light intensity and colour weighting, controlled by solar louvres.

The natural ventilation system circulates air through classrooms, from opening windows and louvres and through a system of automatically opening windows in the atrium through a stack effect.

The school of the future is also harnessing nature's bounty to save water.

Rainwater from the roofs is stored and recycled to toilet cisterns.

An environmental assessment was carried out at the initial design stage of the first project, including the specification of materials.

Alan Soper, managing director of Robinson Architects, who designed the scheme, said: "This was a very exciting and exacting project to be involved in and we were always aware of the financial constraints and were pleased to meet all our client's requirements.

"We worked closely with contractors Willmott Dixon to ensure the design was fluid from inception to completion."

Mark Pheasey, operations director of contractors Willmott Dixon, said: "This flagship primary school is the first of its type to be delivered within the framework.

"The high quality end product is a tribute to the integrated teamwork of all partnership members, providing a model example of what real partnering can achieve."

Bernard Core, Framework One manager, said: "Green End School is the first new school building to be delivered via Framework One. The innovative design, sustainable features and state-of-the-art ICT facilities are a result of successful partnering between the key stakeholders and will enhance delivery of quality learning for the pupils and local community."

Future Construction? The Business Case for Sustainable Building, a seminar to be held at the Round Foundry, Leeds on October 12, aims to further encourage the building sector to recognise and apply new sustainable approaches and techniques, and is sponsored by Robinson Design Group. To attend, contact Circle Consultancy 0870 420 2458.