© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett

Water Hall Primary School

Our thinking, as structural, civil and drainage engineers for this new build primary school in Milton Keynes, was as much about the build strategy as about the design solution. This complex project integrated many factors to deliver a cost-effective, buildable solution. Not least that the original primary school remained in use on site during the construction process.

While children safely continued with their every day school life on one half of the site, the other half of their original school was carefully demolished. The new school was built and the children moved in, with the rest of the original building making way for a landscaped space.

Phased developments need front end thinking to ensure the whole project moves forward on site seamlessly. With a fast-track construction period, completion dates that were set in stone and a tight budget, advance thinking through all aspects of the project design and delivery was essential.

The new school comprises elements of load-bearing masonry and timber-framed structures, with curved façades enclosing a landscaped courtyard, providing a contemporary, welcoming new community building offering a safe environment where children can both learn and play. The sustainable building is constructed from natural materials including brick, timber and glulam and incorporates a SuDS drainage system together with a wind turbine. The roof of the sports hall is supported by six bow string glulam trusses each spanning 15 m. Glulam columns rise into ‘branches’ that in turn support a double height roof to enclose the nursery areas internally, while steel columns rise to support the over sailing roof to create shaded areas in the playground outside.

New build school in Milton Keynes comprising masonry and timber-frame construction elements

Milton Keynes, UK
Milton Keynes Council
Architecture MK
£ 6.7 million
  • 2010 RIBA Award
  • 2009 British Council for School Environments Award