Holy Cross Primary School, Swindon

Key facts

  • PROJECT: Holy Cross Primary School
  • LOCATION: Swindon
  • CLIENT: Cullinan Studio
  • SIZE: A two-form, single-storey primary school
  • TIMING: 3 weeks timber frame erect programme

Type and size of project

Holy Cross primary school is a two-form, single-storey building in Swindon designed by Cullinan Studio. The design and development is innovative and responds to the challenge of building more schools within the budget of the education sector.

Cullinan Studio chose Stewart Milne Timber Systems to be its partner throughout this development and highlighted three priority areas in which Stewart Milne Timber Systems could assist. The project required a fast build time, had to meet significant efficiency standards and had to involve a timber system solution that could be replicated in various different areas of the project. Offsite construction and timber systems emerged as the most effective way of achieving the trio of objectives for this project.

The design concept for this school took advantage of an open plan look and feel to improve circulation and allow for more varied teaching spaces. Windows which allow plenty of light into classrooms were also factored in and spaces which could be multifunctional were important in the design. The wide corridors ran along the building like a spine, with identical classroom clusters running along either side. Cullinan Studio called upon Stewart Milne Timber Systems due to the adaptability and benefits of offsite construction, which aligned with its objectives and allowed the project to be built on time and on budget.

Description of project

Offsite construction offered many advantages throughout this project, including the speed at which the structure could be erected. The timber systems that make up the main structure of the school were manufactured and built in Stewart Milne Timber System’s Oxford base, before being transported to site, where the structure was weathertight in just three weeks. The timber systems arrived as structurally stiff cassettes, with pre-insulated panels, bespoke to the building’s performance requirements.

To ensure high energy performance from the external walls, each precision engineered wall panel was built using timber studs measuring 140mm thickness with 9mm of OSB to one side. Stewart Milne Timber Systems also supplied the roof cassettes for the building which were assembled in the same way, and were built utilising 450mm timber joists.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems ensured built-in energy efficiency and high performance standards for this project by using a lowweight, carbon sequestered timber to meetefficiency standards. The use of offsite manufacturing and timber systems also allowed for the precision engineering of identical timber frame solutions to create the classroom clusters required throughout the building.

While the construction methods of the timber systems for this build were intricate and precision engineered, the building itself boasts simplicity and a welcoming, open feel. Cullinan Studio required the help of Stewart Milne Timber Systems to achieve its vision, but in quick, cost effective and efficient way.


Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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