Three existing primary schools are being replaced by the new Hillhead Primary in Glasgow. We were appointed by the architect as part of the design team to create a learning environment for 666 pupils in a woodland habitat. The site is divided between a former car park and a greenfield site previously used by the city's parks department.
The site's proximity to the River Kelvin necessitated an environmental impact assessment to examine the flood risk. Proposed green roofs will contribute to the drainage strategy by discharging excess water into the river. We provided transport solutions, including provisions for bicycles and staging drop-off zones in the surrounding side streets. An air quality study analysed the impact of CO2 emissions during peak hours.
The school's two-storey rectilinear design was influenced by the site's stepped topography, sloping heavily from west to east. At the highest part of the site, the building is single storey. To support the steel frame, our structural engineers inserted mini piles and used strip foundations. Glazed elevations with riverside views promote the use of natural lighting.
Hillhead Primary School was built to replace three existing primary schools in the west end of Glasgow, close to a designated Air Quality Management Area. Ramboll UK was appointed by Glasgow City Council to conduct an air quality assessment to identify whether the proposed development would have an impact on air quality.
Local planning authorities are required to monitor air quality and air pollutants and to compare current and future concentrations of eight key air pollutants with the objectives set out in the national Air Quality Strategy. Where the objectives are unlikely to be met by the target date, the area should be declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and an action plan developed to reduce pollutant levels.
The Byres Road/Dumbarton Road area, in the vicinity of the new school, was declared an AQMA as a result of airborne nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollutants. Emissions from traffic are the most significant source of NO2, so the council needed to assess whether the pollution generated by traffic for the new school would be significantly greater than that generated by traffic for the three schools it was to replace.
Our consultants initially prepared a transport statement for the site concluding that the proposed school would not result in a net increase in traffic within the AQMA. Based on this and on the reasonable assumptions that traffic speeds and vehicle composition would not significantly change, the air quality assessment presented to the council concluded there would be no net change in air quality within the AQMA.
Reduced energy consumption and improved sustainability have been key drivers for this new primary school on the banks of Glasgow’s River Kelvin.
Low energy solutions have been used throughout. A high-efficiency low-pollution gas-fired boiler plant with insulated double-skin flue provides heating. Air quality and temperature sensors are linked to a building management system, which controls plant and equipment, providing an optimal classroom environment and preventing wasted energy. Gas, water and energy consumption are recorded to track performance.
Full advantage has been taken of the school’s riverside position to benefit its natural ventilation scheme. The cooler river air enters the school driving the passive stack ventilation system. In other areas mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems have been used.
The architect’s design maximises the use of natural light. The implementation of an automatic lighting control system with daylight and occupancy sensors ensure that artificial lighting isn’t used unnecessarily. High-efficiency fluorescent luminaires conserve energy consumption.
Water saving devices including spray taps, automatic toilet flushes, low capacity cisterns and flow regulators have been used to reduce water consumption. Water meters have been incorporated to manage waste and leaks.
fire & safety
The input of our fire engineers for this new school in Glasgow enabled us to help provide a bright and open school environment. Two new interconnected blocks accommodate teaching facilities for 666 primary pupils and 60 nursery children — one block housing classrooms and the other the dining hall, gym, library and offices.
Both blocks feature large openings in their floors that needed to be taken into account as part of the approach to the fire engineering. We used smoke modelling (FDS) to demonstrate that escape past these voids was safe. We then combined the smoke modelling for the facilities block with evacuation modelling (STEPS) to show that a single escape route from the first floor and extended travel distances in the classroom block are workable.
In addition, we were able to demonstrate that the tempered glazing specified for the light well between the classrooms and the nursery was acceptable from a fire engineering point of view, even though the two areas are separate compartments.