Dorset County Council commissioned our team to rebuild Queen Elizabeth’s School, a 1,500-pupil secondary school. The school was one of only three Sustainable Demonstration projects, nationwide. As such, it must embody sustainability within its design. To achieve this, we applied the standards of the Association for Environment Conscious Building to design an inspirational 21st century learning environment and the school has the lowest carbon footprint of any new school in the UK.
The most important innovation is the use of “Cobiax”; hollow, plastic spheres set into the floor and ceiling slabs to create voids. This allowed us to use approximately 30% less concrete. We installed over 6,000m2 of ‘Cobiax’ slabs, making it the largest project of its kind in the UK. The lighter slabs allowed us to reduce column and pile sizes and we estimate an overall saving of 120 lorry loads of concrete on the project.
A bioheat furnace is the main heat source. Fuel consumption is around 420 tonnes of woodchip per year, saving 350 tonnes of CO2. The heating and ventilation system features a large ground tube installation, which uses the energy storage capacity of the earth. In winter, an underground labyrinth tempers cold air, before the furnace warms it. Warm air then circulates throughout the school via a network of risers and ducts. In warmer weather the tubes cool warm air.
Our work set a national benchmark for sustainable, environmentally friendly design. Our team pioneered several leading-edge technologies, never previously applied to this type of building in the UK. The school provides an inspirational learning environment, incorporating features that help pupils to learn about sustainability as an integral part of their education.
Restoring an iconic building, taking part in feasibility studies to decide the best use of the building, working on the project to turn it into a seven-screen cinema with restaurants, coffee shop and retail units, winning multiple industry awards and creating something of huge importance to local people.