Specifier Review

Timber Technology gets A* for Education

The growing demand for new school buildings across the UK has seen a move towards offsite manufactured solid timber structures as a fast and effective method of construction, providing an ideal sustainable solution for educational environments.

As one of the UK’s leading specialist contractors in the design and delivery of hybrid structures – optimised in terms of cost, performance and sustainabilityB & K Structures offer an award winning service across an extensive portfolio encompassing glulam, cross laminated timber (CLT), timber cassettes and steel.


As more research unfolds, the connection between building materials and the comfort and wellbeing of its occupants is something that is becoming increasingly more apparent. Not only are hybrid timber structures sustainable and adaptable, they deliver a natural and calming environment, providing a peaceful space for teaching and learning. The level of noise in a building can have a direct effect on the productivity of its occupants. Cross laminated timber, has a significantly higher density than timber frame structures which offers acoustic advantages, this results in a reduction in noise levels for the transmission of airborne sound.

As the connection between health and wellbeing and productivity becomes more significant, designers are taking into consideration the structural systems available to create the optimum educational environment.

Due to the company’s sustainable credentials, B & K Structures were appointed by Morgan Sindall to develop the structural frame for the first zero carbon business school in the UK, at Essex University.

Plans were progressed for a three storey educational building and a single storey MBA lecture theatre at the University. The design of the facilities intended to provide students, staff and business partners with innovative spaces for study and meetings that focused around a winter garden, in an Eden Project style dome. B & K Structures provided the enhanced hybrid structures, consisting of glulam columns, glulam floor beams, wall cassettes and a cross laminated timber floor deck.

The structure of the main building was curved and used Whitewood Spruce glulam beams, the visual winter garden used Larch glulam beams and encompassed an Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE) along with a timber roof. This acted as a buffer zone as well as supporting the reflexive ventilation and heating strategy of the building. Photovoltaics were added to the roof, to improve carbon emissions and deliver renewable energy from a combined heat and power installation.

The main lecture theatre consisted of glulam, steel nodes, cross laminated timber and curved wall cassettes that were assembled between the raking glulam columns and put together onsite rather than pre-constructed offsite, so that the curved effect could be achieved.

The new building aimed to create a stimulating learning environment for students, reflecting the importance of university’s sustainability ethos. The carbon neutral build demonstrates renewable technologies in action, with the intention of achieving a BREEAM rating of Excellent.

By selecting the most effective combination of systems and materials to meet the brief and performance specification, B & K Structures, the UK’s leading sustainable frame contractor, specialise in the design, manufacture and delivery of optimised hybrid structures

For more information or book an Optimised Hybrid CPD session, please:

Call:  01773 853 400   Email: sales@bkstructures.co.uk    Visit: www.bkstructures.co.uk