Jestico + Whiles has redeveloped Passmores Academy using wood as the primary construction material. The academy’s previous facilities were outdated and not suited for the delivery of a modern curriculum.
The brief for the new design was for a faculty-based school that would fulfill the academy’s priority of “exciting, motivating and challenging” students. Additionally, there was a need for the building to incorporate renewable energy systems to meet the school’s strict sustainability goals.
In a one-off project funded directly by Essex County Council, Jestico + Whiles was awarded a framework in conjunction with contractor Willmott Dixon to redevelop Passmores Academy.
Needing to support seven separate faculties, Jestico + Whiles’ design included a communal gathering ‘Heartspace’ for students featuring the assembly hall, dining and library, with each of the faculty wings radiating from this central point.
To meet sustainability and aesthetic challenges, timber was selected as the primary construction material. The school would also aim to limit its carbon emissions through the use of a biomass boiler.
In keeping with the rural landscape in Harlow, the exterior of the Academy was clad with Western Red Cedar. Laminated timber with cross-laminated structural panels and a sprung timber sports floor were used in the sports hall, while the assembly hall was also fitted with a sprung timber floor, and then clad with oak fins with insulation beneath. Each of the learning wings also features board-on-board Western Red Cedar to create a warm and textured façade.
Arnold Laver, DHH Timber, Junckers and International Timber were all engaged to supply the timber. The composite wood products were chosen to complement each other and create a truly sustainable design. All timber was responsibly-sourced and FSC-certified.
By using timber, Jestico + Whiles was able to complement Passmores Academy’s sustainability strategy, which looked to introduce energy efficiency measures and in turn reduce the school’s energy demands. Its environmentally-friendly credentials saw the building score a BREEAM for schools ‘Very Good’.