UHI - North Highland College

Thurso

Project Status

Completed

Project Sector

Education

Client

UHI / North Highland College

Contractor

Robertson Highland

Engineer

Fairhurst / Pick Everard

Awards

2012 IAA Design Awards: Best Building and Best Use of Timber

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The Centre for Energy and the Environment is a scientific research facility for the Environmental Research Institute based in Thurso as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. We were asked by Design & Build contractors Robertson Highland to join their team to come forward with a bid to develop the project at the North Highland College Campus.

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As the name implies, we felt that a transparent environmental approach was necessary. It was also a requirement of the brief that a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ score be achieved. Rather than steel and concrete, we looked at glulam and Cross Laminated Timber for the floors and diaphragm walls. While more expensive as a material compared with steel and concrete, the material allows for an accelerated site programme since you don’t need to wait for the upper floor to cure. This time saving had a cost benefit in allowing other trades to progress more quickly. A timber frame wall solution heavily insulated reduced the heating requirements.

The BREEAM process is heavily dependent upon good travel links and rigorous environmental documentation; difficult to achieve in such a remote part of the country. However, we engaged very strongly with the BREEAM assessor to explore ways in which the design and construction could embrace the essence of the environmental objectives. Despite the fact that the project was geographically disadvantagedwe achieved the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ score but also held the highest score for a Further Education building for a period of about six months. The building also won the 2012 IAA design awards for best building and best use of timber and was shortlisted in the 2012 RIAS Andrew Doolan awards.

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