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West Totton First School
associated engineer
Buro Happold
date  1990
UK era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  SU358139
This building is structured almost entirely of a glue-laminated timber substitute known as Glulam. The material was chosen to provide a cost effective alternative to the natural timber originally envisioned by the architects, for a design inspired by the avenue of trees leading to the site.
Glulam has both the advantages and disadvantages of timber as a building material, and much had to be overcome to marry the architects' wishes with modern building requirements.
Because of the building's intended function, maximum natural light was desirable, and the necessity of window space ruled out the possibility of substantial opaque walls to lend stability to the structure. Large rigid joints of the kind which conventionally support steel or concrete frames were also undesirable as visually, they undermine the lightness of timber construction. Instead, stability was achieved by fixing the Glulam columns rigidly to the concrete foundations via pin-joints of galvanised steel.
The columns were set in Epoxy resin and sunk through a neoprene seal, a steel plate 12mm thick and 25mm of grout, into the floor slab, and welded to the steel plate as they passed through.
At the top of each column the problem was reversed, as here relatively stiff columns joined thinner, more flexible roof members. Again, the solution was a pin-joint, here serving to ensure that any bending of the columns is not transferred to the slender roof beams.
Architect: Hampshire County Council Architects
reference sources   LG/SJ

West Totton First School