Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg
Name of client BGCBC Education Department
Contract value £5,295,538 (original contract sum)
Project Manager Jim Allen (BGCBC)
Architect Jim Allen (BGCBC) / Powell Dobson Architects (contractors team)
Quantity Surveyor Trevor Keyse (BGCBC)
Mechanical Engineer Robin Cornelius (BGCBC)
Electrical Engineer Phil Roberts (BGCBC)
Structural Engineer Carl Powell (BGCBC)
Clerk of Works Keith Price (BGCBC)
Planning Supervisor Emyr Strongers
Main Contractor W.R.W. Construction Ltd
Project Description9a967a7576

The building was envisaged as a welsh-medium primary school which was intended to stimulate the pupils to broaden their adoption of the welsh language within the Borough. This was desirable because parents consider the study of the language to be sufficiently important and therefore they have elected to have their children educated in this language. The significance of this is exploited in the design, which attempts to be overtly different from the design of an English language school.

The building is a bold design that attempts to embody the qualities of the Welsh people and the land. The broad themes are duality and contrast between hard and soft, sophisticated and coarse; and modern and traditional. The form of the building is an abstraction of the characteristics of the Welsh landscape, the hills, vales and cliffs. Materials are a combination of locally grown, untreated sweet chestnut, natural stone, zinc, corten and slate. These choices and uses reflect the broad conceptual themes

The overall feel of the building was for a clean, bright, elegant and minimalist building radiating freedom to its occupants by its palette of materials and shapes and orientation of windows.

The school integrates a mixture of modern, forward-looking and innovative facilities that will encourage the pupils to develop their skills and knowledge within a semi-rural surrounding.

The building meets all the current requirements for disabled access, and has a number of induction loops built into various parts of the building. The main toilets are integrated facilities which are accessible, however there is a separate dedicated facility on the First Floor for instances where a greater degree of privacy is required.d0f26dca72

Completion was in August 2010, the building opening for the Autumn Term in September 2010.

The project was funded by the Welsh Assembly Grant, Heads of The Valleys and Blaenau Gwent Count Borough Council’s Capital programme. The total funding allocated was £6,651,000 to include land, infrastructure, construction, ancillary accommodation, landscaping, furniture and equipment and professional fees.

The project was procured as a Develop & Construct variant of Design & Build, using JCT Design and Build Contract 2005. The initial design was undertaken by Blaenau Gwent’s Technical Services Division [up to stage D]

Even considering the procurement method, in practice the project was managed in a very similar way to a Partnering scheme. Details were agreed and revised with the cost constraints imposed by the tender price. The main contractor, W.R.W. Construction Ltd, and their consultants all embraced the desire to create a high quality building, and recreate in as pure a form as possible, the original design intent.

It was an explicit requirement that the building was to be a ‘statement’ where the appearance would reflect the local natural materials and encourage sustainability within the community.  The school is to become an advertisement for the development of traditional welsh values to inspire future generations.

Sustainability Aspects

The building has been designed to maximise the effective use of the site, in terms of both site area and orientation. The school has been designed to achieve the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard.

9b881b3432The building is designed to maximise the benefits of solar gain and day lighting, but avoid overheating. Energy efficient fittings and controls have been provided in the building.

The building has been insulated to standards which far exceed those specified by the current Building Regulations to minimise heat loss, maximise use of use of passive heat gains, and reduce the amount of energy required to heat the building.

A grey water recycling system has been installed, and the site will makes use of Sustainable Urban Drainage techniques such as permeable paving, swales, soak-a-ways, and an attenuation pond. A reed bed drainage system will be provided below the development plateau which will account for all foul drainage.

At this stage, not all of the interior materials have been determined; however some use will be made of renewable, recycled and recyclable materials. The timber cladding to the walls will be sustainable locally-sourced FSC certified. The design also makes use of a sustainable drainage system, where all surface water is discharged directly to local groundwater instead of being routed to the main piped surface water drainage system.


Cllr. David Thomas of Denbighshire County Council presenting the CLAW 2011 Commendation Award to Cllr. Hedley McCarthy and Clive Rogers of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. Also in the picture are Cllr. Keith Evans, Chairman of CLAW and Garet Nutt, Chairman of the Board of Nominated Officers.