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Chester Blue Coat CE Primary School

Cheshire West and Chester

Project Details

£5m to £9.99M


Tweed Nuttall Warburton

Chapel House , City Road , CHESTER , Cheshire , CH1 3AE , United Kingdom

In March 2011, following the successful completion of an extended feasibility study we were appointed by Chester DBE as Lead Consultant and Architect for the design and procurement of a new build fully-integrated two-form entry primary school and associated external works for Chester Bluecoat CE Primary School. A two-storey solution was developed in response to the existing site constrains and the necessity to phase the works to maintain operational capacity of the existing School buildings on site. The innovative and cost effective design solution was made possible through the use of crosslaminated timber, (CLT) for the School’s superstructure. To ensure a unified school environment, the foundation and infant teaching spaces are linked to the first floor junior spaces by a ‘teaching street’ at ground level and an verlooking ‘balcony street’ at first floor level. This provides horizontal and vertical circulation together with interaction with the double height space running through the building. The cantilevered, visual grade, CLT balcony accentuates the horizontal circulation throughout the School, and negates the need for structural supports interrupting the 'street' below, whilst the structural glass balustrade reinforces the unity between the key stages and reflects the superstructure construction. Visual grade CLT was chosen to express the volume of the large hall and one external wall in each classroom. The use of the visual grade CLT has proved to be a significant factor with regards to its associated contribution to the internal environment of the School, where the tactile quality and inherent warmth of the wood have been described as providing a peaceful, natural and calming environment for the children. Chester Blue Coat Primary School is our first cross-laminated timber (CLT) building. Following an option appraisal exercise, CLT was specified primarily for its sustainability credentials combined with its suitability to realise the design of the school’s superstructure. Other considerations were its visual appearance, the design flexibility of CLT and its inherent acoustic and airtightness properties. Cost and programme benefits were realised through the efficiencies the system brought to the construction programme, as other trades were able to work concurrently with the frame erection which was completed in nine weeks. The design embraces the natural properties of CLT exposing the surface at significant intervals to express the form and superstructure of the building, and to experience the inherent warmth and tactile qualities of the material. Combined with the natural light and choice of finishes the result is an almost tangible atmosphere of calm within the building. The Head Teacher Vince O’Brien explains, ‘‘the exposed wood interior, when seen with the white walls and green flooring, evokes the tones of the tree, a haven for shelter and a good place to be.’’