St Benedict’s Junior School and Nursery

A new Passivhaus Ark

Our second building for St Benedict’s School, the New Ark junior school building, provides classrooms and space for the Nursery which was previously off-site. This extremely low energy use building is constructed of modern structural cross-laminated timber panels, chosen both for their ability to be fabricated off-site and minimise disruption to the working School, and for their airtightness performance which will contribute to achieving Passivhaus certification.  Constructing to Passivhaus standards is an innovative solution that ensures minimal energy demands and running costs and excellent fresh air quality at all times to keep pupils and staff alert.  There are currently only a handful of schools in the UK built to this standard, making the New Ark an innovative educational building.

‘The opening of our new junior school is another very exciting landmark in St Benedict’s history. Not only will it provide a perfect learning environment for our youngest pupils, it is also very eco-friendly – essential in the face of London’s urgent pollution problem.’Headmaster of St Benedict’s, Andrew Johnson

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  • Project Details

    • Location: Ealing, London
      Client: St Benedict's School
      Area: 1659 m2

The building creates a secure and welcoming entrance and reception to the Junior School and a new stair and lift provides full accessibility to both the New Ark and the existing building, to which it is connected via a new glazed link.

All classrooms are south facing to get maximum benefit from sunlight, while solar shading prevents unwanted solar gain and glare.

Nursery and Reception classes have direct access to a secure, outside play area and a canopy provides external sheltered areas for the pupils outside the classroom

The building responds sensitively to its immediate context and the challenging planning constraints inherent to the conservation area, with the strong working relationship we developed with the local planning authority key to the project’s success.

The new building’s series of pitched roofs respond to the rhythm of the surrounding conservation area roofscape, and ‘tumbled’ brickwork on the gables provides articulation to the elevations.  Combining traditional brickwork with innovative Passivhaus construction methods has resulted in a building of the highest quality, providing the best possible spaces for learning and supporting the School’s long-term ambitions.

Peter Hanson, van Heyningen and Haward Architects

Project Timeline

  • 2013
    Concept design
  • Planning

    Sketchup model showing design in relation to surrounding architecture

  • Planning

    Detailed CGI modelling

  • Construction

    Delivery of cross-laminated timber structural panels

  • Construction

    Raising CLT roof structure

  • Passivhaus Detailing

    Super-insulated and airtight construction for passivhaus performance

  • Construction

    Completed CLT structure of the new building linking to the existing Junior School building

  • Materials

    Intricate craftsmanship in the 'tumbled' brickwork gables

  • Engagement

    Green Sky Thinking - Passivhaus building tour

  • Official opening of the New Ark

  • 2017