Ysgol Bae Baglan, Port Talbot

Ysgol Bae Baglan is one of the first all-through schools in Wales. It has very quickly become a landmark scheme and provides accommodation for 300 primary pupils, 1100 secondary pupils and a fully integrated 100 pupil additional learning needs (ALN) unit. Located on a very flat, prominent site, the built form has been designed to reflect the character of the rolling hills that forms a backdrop to the school.
Planning and Design

Planning and Design process

Concept

The school is divided into three teaching wings all directly linked to a large heart space. There are two independent learning pods to allow for a transient increase in pupil numbers and future expansion. Landscape and building designs were developed together to provide a seamless and coordinated series of events throughout the scheme.

Innovative engineering

Complex ground investigations results revealed a need to design a structural steel frame which transferred loads evenly across the ground. Early designs suggested piles would be about fifty metres. This was not only expensive but could have disrupted neighbouring sites during installation. An innovatively engineered solution for stiffening the ground was developed and this eliminated the need for deep piling and the risk of penetrating local aquifers.

Materiality

All external materials were selected for robustness and ease of maintenance. Elevations are largely engineering brickwork at ground floor with highly insulated render and composite panels at upper levels. There are some robust feature coloured rainscreen cladding panels supplied by Carea.

Multi-sensory environment

To provide respite from prevailing winds a sheltered courtyard was included which is visually playful with coloured glazed panels in the curtain walling suggesting a peaceful wild flower meadow. Way finding and colour schemes throughout the school replicate these colours complimenting other multi-sensory signage that enables visual and hearing impaired pupils to sense their environment through sounds, lighting levels, colours and textures.

Design champion

Neath Port Talbot were keen champions of design excellence throughout the project. Strong collaboration between client, design team and the contractor has delivered a school which has clearly inspired a sense of genuine ownership in its staff, pupils and the local community. Commitment to procuring and maintaining design quality is evident in the client’s appointment of the design team to complete Stage 3 before appointment of a main contractor. This ensured their aspirations could be developed throughout subsequent design and build stages. Their continued collaboration and involvement has been rewarded with this community focused scheme that more than meets their architectural and educational vision.

Key sustainability points

Energy efficiency 

Ysgol Bae Baglan is a highly sustainable project, achieving a BREEAM excellent rating and an energy performance certificate of A. Classroom elevations are located away from the noisy road allowing them all to be naturally ventilated.

Green technology

There are over 2,000 m² of photovoltaic panels on the roof and there is a large transpired solar collector which passively pre-heats air to warm the sports halls, reducing running costs.

Community use

The entire school is open to the community after school hours and is widely used for a variety of cultural, learning, social and sporting events. Central core spaces are designed for flexibility, allowing the space to expand and contract and accommodate a variety of activities. Opened by school patron, actor Michael Sheen, the large performance hall has already established itself as a well-loved, active community theatre space.

Image credits: James Morris & Jones Millbank

Design and Construction Information

Client: Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

Architect: Stride Treglown

Structural Engineer: Cambria Consulting

M and E Engineer: AECOM

Civil Engineer: Cambria Consulting

Contractor: Bouygues Construction

Other Design and Construction team: Quantity Surveyors - Faithful & Gould

Date of Completion: 2016

Contract value: £35m

Site Area: 13,750sqm

Cost/m2: £2,545

Funding: Wales Government & Neath Port Talbot CBC

Awards: National Eisteddfod Gold Medal for Architecture, Constructing Excellence – UK Project of the Year, LABC - National Award - Best Education Building, Civic Trust Awards – Regional Finalist, Sustain Wales Award – Highly Commended, RICS Award for Innovation – Highly Commended, Selwyn Goldsmith Award – Finalist

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