UCL Pearl - B&K Structures, Engenuiti & Stora Enso
Project - UCL Pearl
Sector - Education
Technology - Components
Company - B&K Structures, Enguenuiti & Stora Enso
Designed to protect the landscape and provide a rich range of spaces for learning and socialising, this new senior school building combines offsite construction and cross-laminated-timber with a collaborative digital approach. This significantly reduced construction time and disruption to the ongoing life of the school, whilst being exceptionally sustainable and creating bright open spaces and a warm, welcoming feel.
Over and above delivering on budget and programme, the client’s brief included the requirement for Crosfields Senior School building to be sustainable, inclusive, and welcoming – in keeping with the school’s ethos. A collaborative approach and the use of modern methods of construction – including offsite technology, has ensured we created an exemplar project in terms of the client’s criteria, in practice and design.
It also ensured we efficiently absorbed the three-month hiatus and associated challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. The distinctive, S-shaped building weaves around the existing site - protecting the trees and forming an open courtyard. It provides a new entrance, nine classrooms, staff area, library, wellbeing hub, and a double height, flexible performance space and café that links to the courtyard and provides an amenity for the entire school. The design allows for future additions to be made when the school expands. Work was scheduled to start in June 2020, but began in September 2020 due to the pandemic, meaning that the team had to manage the challenges of the delay and the labour and material shortages that came with Covid-19.
Together, the collaborative team focused on innovation, efficiency, technology, exemplar communication, and an offsite approach. With this, we delivered to budget, and on a reduced programme (critical for maintaining the school’s academic timetable), managing new and additional challenges (labour and material shortages), and still maintained the high-quality finish. The building was also delivered safely within a constrained and occupied site. A fully developed BIM and Level 2 protocols ensured accuracy of information during the offsite phase and cost certainty for the client.
Workshops ensured architectural and MEP coordinated with the offsite CLT superstructure prior to fabrication, leading to seamless installation. Offsite technology ensured we achieved embodied carbon reduction, airtightness, and less onsite traffic. The result is an exemplar building – in terms of sustainability and inclusivity, one where CLT supports the health and wellbeing of the building users, alongside a 25% improvement on Part L regulations. Customisation of standard CLT elements achieved a beautiful environment, tailored to the school’s needs and the site.
The design celebrates the techniques used to build it; the exposed timber structure knits the building into the mature landscape and internally the exposed CLT finish brings proven wellbeing benefits. In addition, through our approach, we have shown that offsite technology can be used to achieve a highly bespoke architectural response to a school’s specific brief.