Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
Ynysowen New Community School



Name of client Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
Contract value £ 5,638,854.67
Project Manager Track Consulting.
Architect White Design Associates Limited
Quantity Surveyor Lee Wakemans Limited
Mechanical Engineer Silcock Dawson
Electrical Engineer Silcock Dawson
Structural Engineer Integral Engineering Design
Clerk of Works Track Consulting
Planning Supervisor White Young Green
Main Contractor Morgan Sindall Limited
Project Description

Ynysowen Community Primary School in Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil is located by the river Taff at the base of the valley, where the school is set against a striking backdrop of surrounding trees and hills. The building provides facilities for 300 students, 40 nursery places and a range of community activities under one roof.

The school was created using the principles of sustainable design and construction, which means that orientation on site, natural materials, daylight and a natural ventilation system are all intrinsic to the design.


The Building as a Teaching and Learning Tool

Throughout the building, the method of construction and day-to-day operation are used as educational tools for the students. The exposed timber glue-laminated (glulam) structure demonstrates how the building stands up, while the building services are colour-coded so the children can identify the different pipes and systems to understand how the building functions. In the entrance foyer there is a clear rainwater pipe, so the pupils can view and monitor the amount of water going into the storage tank.  Alongside, a display screen shows how much energy and water the school is using (and saving) highlighting the many links between the building and the environment.



Learning through the Landscape

The landscape design for the school continues the themes of the school building, extending the classroom to the exterior, with an outside classroom space.

Educational features within the landscape include a dipping pond and woodland area, where children can learn about nature and wildlife. The landscape complements the building design and the surrounding natural environment by introducing a variety of native trees and shrubs onto the site which provide new natural habitats.

The design team took steps to protect the ecology of the area, including the preservation of a bat flight route and the provision of bat boxes as part of the scheme.



Natural Lighting and Ventilation

The building is orientated to allow the classrooms to receive consistent north light in each of the learning spaces.

Whenever natural light is low, the artificial lights balance with the daylight to give consistent light levels. With light sensors in each room the light levels will never be too bright or too low.

The school is naturally ventilated which enhances the internal environment to provide an optimum learning environment. A building management system includes sensors which monitor the temperature and carbon dioxide levels of each individual classroom. The management system also controls the automated windows to allow for the correct level of ventilation required.


Materials and Heating

The materials used in the construction of the building were selected for their performance and durability throughout their lifetime, as well as overall sustainable credentials and aesthetic qualities. This is demonstrated in the building frame, structure and cladding which all comprise sustainably sourced timber. To reduce the energy consumption of the school over its lifespan there are high levels of insulation in the walls, roof and floor, designed so that less heating is required. Most of school’s heating is provided by a system of 14 bore holes, each 100m deep in the ground which transfer the constant heat from the ground to heat the building, reducing further the energy  consumption. The earth’s resources are also used to heat the hot water for the school, with 10 solar hot water panels on the south-facing roof. The rainwater from the roof is collected and stored, then reused to flush all the toilets in the school, saving large amounts of fresh water each year.