University of Essex
Project: University of Essex
Company: B & K Structures
Technology: CLT & Glulam
Plans were passed in 2013 for the construction of a three storey educational building and a single storey MBA lecture theatre, scheduled to be opened in the autumn of 2015 at the University of Essex. The build comprised a B & K Structures, European partner of the X-LAM Alliance, optimised hybrid structure of glulam, CLT, steel and prefabricated wall cassettes
Morgan Sindall appointed B & K Structures – leading supplier of optimised hybrid solutions – to provide the glulam, steel, CLT and wall cassettes for the build. B & K Structures were on site in May 2013 to begin on the three storey building and MBA lecture theatre – both hybrid structures
consisting of glulam columns, glulam floor beams, wall cassettes and CLT floor deck. A curved structure formed the main building constructed mainly from Whitewood Spruce Timber glulam with the exception of the visual winter garden area that used Larch glulam.
The winter garden encompassed an Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE) and timber roof. On completion, the garden acts as a buffer zone – supporting the passive ventilation and heating strategy of the building, whilst also providing a striking arrival and meeting space, showcasing
the green and social character of the new business school. The roof of the business school was covered in photovoltaics – taking full advantage of the south orientation in order to provide renewable energy for a combined heat and power installation. This enabled the net export of energy
to offset carbon emissions from the building.
The main lecture theatre is formed through a geodesic structure – comprising glulam, steel nodes, CLT and wall cassettes. The wall cassette panels were assembled between the raking glulam columns. Standard larch glulam sized beams were double glued together to achieve the long
curved members and steel and iroko timber were then used to construct an external ramp for disabled access.
The new carbon neutral build will showcase renewable technologies in action with the aim of achieving a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of Excellent. It will also feature a range of innovative sustainable elements, including the green
sedum roof, solar panels and sustainably sourced materials.
The main challenge for B & K Structures during this project was achieving the curved wall cassettes for the main lecture theatre. In order to overcome this challenge the cassettes were carefully set out and assembled onsite, instead of the usual process of being pre-constructed
Outcome / results / success factor
The highlight of the build for B & K Structures was being involved in the creation of the first zero carbon business school in the UK – creating a stimulating learning environment for students with a reflection of the university’s sustainability ethos.
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