Situated on a steep sloping site at the gateway to the Ironbridge World Heritage site at Telford, the Abraham Darby Sports and Learning Community project brings together a primary school, academy and a community sports and leisure facility in a single, co-located complex.
From the start of the project, energy efficiency was placed at the top of the agenda. Through an integrated architectural, engineering and landscape approach, BDP looked to embed sustainable credentials in the buildings’ design. Rather than just focus on operational energy use, the focus was on embodied carbon, minimising energy consumption and reducing ongoing lifecycle costs.
Timber is a key element within the material spectrum, and is used extensively across all buildings as both a cladding and structural material. All timber is FSC certified, and, due to its impeccable environmental credentials, means that the development acts as a carbon sink. The carbon sequestered within the primary school structure alone is equivalent to approximately two years of CO2 emissions, and has seen the development awarded BREEAM ‘Excellent’.
Various wood types have been used in the design. The primary school and leisure centre both make use of glulam load bearing frames, while the academy comprises a mix of glulam columns and CLT panels. Western Red Cedar cladding features extensively throughout.
The structural timber elements and connection details were all carefully crafted to ensure the design would meet BDP’s aesthetic aspirations, while simplifying construction processes for fabrication and erection on site, all helping to maintain affordability.
Of particular merit is the domed timber grid-shell roof in the academy. The roof soars over the heart-space of the academy with a span of 35 metres, and comprises 420 individual European Whitewood Glulam members and 127 galvanised steel nodes. It is overboarded with 60mm thick CLT timber panels.