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Wintringham Primary Academy

A new model for primary education

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Client: Cambridgeshire County Council
Status: Completed 2020
Location: St Neots, Cambridgeshire
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Type/Sector: Education
Tagged: Engineered Timber, Sustainability Exemplars

Collaborators

Main Contractor Morgan Sindall
Masterplan Developer Urban and Civic
Structural Engineer (super-structure) Engenuiti
Structural Engineer (sub-structure and civils) Peter Dann Consulting Engineers
Services Engineer Roger Parker Associates
Cost Consultant Morgan Sindall / Faithful & Gould
BREEAM Assessor Stroma
Planning Consultant Turley
Landscape Designer Bradley Murphy Design
CLT Supplier KLH UK

This elegant timber school provides an inspirational learning environment for its pupils by surrounding them with nature, inside and outside.

Collaborators

Main Contractor Morgan Sindall
Masterplan Developer Urban and Civic
Structural Engineer (super-structure) Engenuiti
Structural Engineer (sub-structure and civils) Peter Dann Consulting Engineers
Services Engineer Roger Parker Associates
Cost Consultant Morgan Sindall / Faithful & Gould
BREEAM Assessor Stroma
Planning Consultant Turley
Landscape Designer Bradley Murphy Design
CLT Supplier KLH UK
01 A new heart for a new community

The primary school provides a community focal point for Wintringham Park, a 205ha masterplan development to the east of St Neots town centre in Cambridgeshire.

The three-form entry school is a two-storey building that accommodates 708 students alongside 60 teachers and support staff. The academy contributes to a new public plaza. Its place in the community is further enhanced by sharing its facilities such as the hall and studio.

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The school under construction.
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The glazed ceramic panelling wrapped around Wintringham Primary Academy’s cross-laminated timber structure.
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Consultations for Wintringham Primary Academy
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Wintringham Primary Academy's cross-laminated timber structure.
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The grove at the centre of the school under construction.
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The glazed ceramic panelling wrapped around Wintringham Primary Academy’s cross-laminated timber structure.
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Consultations for Wintringham Primary Academy.
02 A forest school in the round

The overall design concept sought inspiration from forest school principles, offering an abundance of outdoor learning spaces and indoor teaching spaces that feel surrounded by nature.

Classrooms are clustered into groups of three and arranged around a central woodland grove, a landscaped learning resource that embodies the ethos of the academy and the wider masterplan.

This design also supports learning in the round, an organisational spatial concept developed by us that provides a framework for the efficient arrangement of classroom clusters and other support spaces. This not only places similar age groups together to foster support, but also allows for shared facilities to be clustered, arranged and easily accessed from all classroom spaces.

One of my favourite moments on this project was working together with the school’s future Head Teacher during the design development stages. While we discussed different design ideas for the project it was revealing to listen to her describe how she imagined the different spaces would be occupied by pupils, teachers, parents and even her pet dog Simba. These vivid descriptions brought this new school to life long before the first spade was in the ground.

Regina Kertapati
Regina Kertapati
Senior Arch Designer
Learning in the round at Wintringham Primary Academy

Insight: Regina Kertapati

03 A fabric first approach

We set out to reduce the building’s operational carbon emissions by adopting a fabric first approach to design.

The use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the entire building’s structure and interior offers a comforting environment whilst making construction easier, faster, safer and more efficient.

The structural efficiency of CLT enabled the creation of a slender roof form that gently follows the contour of the school’s avocado-shaped plan. Its generous overhanging canopy not only provides solar shading to rooms but also weather protection to the outdoor learning spaces below (this project is designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Very Good’). Through collaboration with the school’s teachers, we were also able to carefully design in a series of ‘soft spots’ within the engineered timber structure that allow for spatial changes to adapt to the school’s future growth and evolving curriculum.

Ceramic tiles wrap around the building’s timber structure. The glazed ceramic panels draw inspiration from the seasonal colours found within nature and provide wayfinding and identity to the different year groups.

04 Cost and efficiency

Appointed as Lead Designer by Morgan Sindall, we successfully worked with the design team to produce a coordinated design package within an extremely tight programme.

Choosing a CLT framing system was critical because it allowed the full frame to be erected within 2.5 months and reduced the cost of the foundation package significantly.

Wintringham Primary Academy’s motto is to ‘nurture, inspire, flourish’, and with this smart, efficient and caring building, we feel confident that the school now has the environment to do just that.

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