Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - Crosfields School

14 April 2022

Project of the Year under 10m sponsored by Hill Dickinson

Crosfields School (submitted by David Miller Architects) 

Building Project of the Year under £10m SECBE Award 2022 finalist

When Crosfields decided to run an invited competition for their new senior school building, their key requirements, over and above the givens of meeting budget and programme, were that it should be sustainable and exceptionally inclusive and welcoming in keeping with the school’s ethos. By taking a highly collaborative approach and embracing modern methods of construction, the design team have achieved an exemplar project in both practice and design, consistently excellent across all the criteria used to assess a project.

The S-shaped, two-storey building weaves around the existing site, its shape created both to protect trees and to wrap around and form a new, open courtyard for pupils. The building provides a new front entrance, nine classrooms, staff area, library, wellbeing hub, along with a double height, flexible performance space and café that are the heart of the building and an amenity for the entire school. A covered walkway linking to the courtyard provides solar shading and creates a modern ‘cloister’. The first of two phases, the design allows for future additions, planned for when the senior school expands.
With works originally scheduled to start in June 2020 but commencing in September 2020 due to the pandemic, the team had to work together to overcome a number of obstacles (material/labour shortages and Covid-19 working practices) to deliver the project to the original completion date, whilst still maintaining a high quality finish throughout and adhering to the overall budget constraints.

Early selection of an MMC solution to build off-site using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) was crucial in addressing these issues. It significantly reduced the substructure works, taking the fabrication of the frame off the critical path, so speeding up construction. Additionally, use of MMC reduced disruption to the ongoing life of the school and the choice of CLT substantially reduced embodied carbon, helped to ensure airtightness and meant fewer on-site deliveries. The biophilic design with exposed timber also brings proven wellbeing benefits in a school setting, including reduced heart rate and increased concentration. The building was designed to maximise natural light and natural ventilation and PVs provide renewable energy.

Overall, there is a 25% improvement on Part L regulations and the building achieves an A-rated EPC. Early engagement with key subcontractors was key. The design team and contractors were selected for their expertise with mass timber construction, but also for their mindset – highly collaborative and open to innovation. The entire design team embraced the benefits of working digitally to make the project more efficient and achieve certainty of outcome. Level 2 BIM principles were applied, despite not being a requirement, and sharing information was facilitated by working in the common data environment. This, combined with offsite manufacture, enabled savings in time and materials, reducing waste and disruption and improving safety, important on a fully occupied site. A strong, one team approach was achieved through clarity of vision from the client and excellent teamwork and exemplar communication between the design team, resulting in a building that the project team is extremely proud of.

Key achievements:

  • A highly collaborative project with a delighted client and a proud design and construction team.
  • A project that was delivered on time and on budget, despite losing three months on site due to the pandemic.
  • An all-round high quality building that is elegant, functional, sustainable and affordable.

Client: Crosfields School

Project Partners: David Miller Architects, KLH (CLT Supplier), Engenuiti (CLT Engineer), Perega (Structural & Civil Engineer), CBG Consulting (M&E and BREEAM), Madlins (Project Manager, Employer’s Agent and Quantity Surveyor), Cahill Design Consultants (Fire and Acoustic), Beard Construction (Main Contractor)


Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.


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About the Building Project of the Year over £10m Award (sponsored by  Hill Dickinson) 

Project of the Year delivers outstanding outcomes for all those involved in a construction project.  It showcases the benefits achieved through the application of many of the principles described in the other award categories. More info.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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