merthyr learning quarter buildings small

Designing an inspirational learning centre

The expectations were high and the timeframe was tight – buildings of half the size are often developed on the same programme – so no scope for delays.

One of the development’s ultimate goals is to increase the number of young people continuing with their studies and progressing into high-skilled employment and higher education.

Opus provided engineering services for the project. The expectations were high and the timeframe was tight –buildings of half the size are often developed on the same programme – so there was no scope for delays.

Before starting, we showed the client, Merthyr Tydfil College and the University of Glamorgan, around a previous project we had been involved with. Having seen the high specification finish, the brief was amended to take into account the quality gains that could be made. 

Once complete, the Merthyr Learning Quarter will be given a BREEAM (BRE Energy Assessment Method) “Excellent” rating. Achieving such a high rating has involved taking considerable account of environmental issues in the design. As many environmentally sustainable materials as possible were incorporated into the design.

A biomass boiler runs on recycled foodstuffs and non-oil/gas materials. It’s all part of a holistic approach to sustainability that is an important part of our work.

A new sports hall is another innovative part of the project. The hall will be developed to Sports England standard, which means it will be specified to required levels for official games and events. Since it is on the third floor of the building, the team has had to use innovative design – including a sprung floor, a 150mm void area and a floating floor – to ensure noise doesn’t transfer to offices and classrooms.

The Merthyr Learning Quarter was designed using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Revit software to enable the design to be fully integrated, and to eliminate the construction issues that can occur when consultants work in isolation in 2D.

We worked with contractor Interserve and the relationship has proven to be a strong one –crucial for a project with such a tight deadline.