Mossbourne Community Academy

Mossbourne Community Academy - Construction

Mossbourne school is one of the largest timber frame buildings in the UK. The primary structure is a glulam frame consisting of over 1,000 cubic metres of renewable European whitewood formed into paired columns and beams. The timber is sourced, laminated and machined in Holland, arriving on site ready to be bolted together and erected. All the connections are made using steel plates and bolts. Internally, the bolts are deeply recessed into the timber to avoid children snagging themselves. Externally the bolts are exposed, avoiding potential weak spots where water may penetrate the timber.

The primary structure is comprised of two rows of parallel ‘H’ frames which are spanned by secondary beams. This structure frames a series of classrooms, with the secondary beams projecting past the frame to carry a walkway. Externally the beams penetrate the building skin to form a series of external walkways. The use of timber has enabled continuous structural members to extend from interior to exterior, without the need for a thermal break.

The timber is untreated internally and has only minimal applied protection externally. In order to avoid a costly maintenance regime the frame has been detailed in such a way that it will protect itself from of the damaging effects of water. Each beam and column, where external, is covered with a capping of Iroko hardwood. This not only protects the beams from the damaging effects of standing water but also includes a drip detail to reduce the amount of water running down the face of the structure.

The main sustainable component of the building is the timber frame – a highly sustainable and renewable resource in comparison to steel or concrete. Passive environmental systems include a series of top-lit voids inside the protective wall that bring diffused natural light down into the teaching spaces. The facade includes openable vents that act as a one-sided natural ventilation system during the day, and at night, a two-sided system operates via the voids to cool the building overnight. In addition, towers located above the vertical circulation zones extract unwanted hot air.