Mellor Primary School is a popular and successful school in the Cheshire village of Mellor, close to the Peak District national park. Due to the growth of the school, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects were commissioned to design an extension to the school building, which was originally built in 1995. The low energy building aims to harmonise with its natural setting, using locally sourced natural materials.
Timber was specified as a robust and sustainable material, offering clear benefits in terms of ecological sustainability, structural performance, durability and long-term maintenance. Tree-like glulam frames support not only the deck but also the roofs internally and canopies externally, making a visual connection between internal and external spaces.
The new classroom and library enjoy views into the surrounding tree canopy, and external deck areas can be used as outdoor classroom space as well as for informal play, this reflects the school’s forest school activities. Just as importantly, the use of timber reflects the school’s Forest School activities and allows the expanded building to sit comfortably in its greenbelt setting.
All timber specified is from well-managed, renewable sources with much PEFC-certified. The external use of timber is intended to reduce long term maintenance costs for the school. The cedar cladding to the walls and roofs, for example, is a durable and attractive surface that will require minimal maintenance. It has been left untreated, and will weather gradually over time.
The glulam frame forms a strong visual element in the new building and makes a link between the surrounding trees and the functional properties of timber. The glulam superstructure was erected relatively quickly in the space of four days, and the timber cassettes were installed within ten days.
In general, timber frame construction offers a lightweight construction method which reduces material mass and allows lighter foundations – thereby minimising the use of carbon-heavy concrete. The school has also been recognised as a centre of excellence in the wider Forest Schools network, and is being used as an inspirational hub and demonstration project for other schools looking to place the environment at the heart of their learning.
Sponsored by PEFC UK, Mellor Primary won the Best Education Project and Judges Choice Award at the Structural Timber Awards 2016. The Awards recognise outstanding projects which promote excellence in structural timber across the UK.
For more information visit: www.swarch.co.uk