Proposals for Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School have this week received full planning approval from the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council planning committee.

In partnership with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, AECOM and ISG Construction, Rio Architects has received full planning approval for the new 6th form building and gymnasium for Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School providing a future education environment that meets both Sustainable Communities for Learning and the Net Zero Carbon targets of the Welsh Government.

The proposed works represent the commencement of a wider development plan at Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School. Liaising with Welsh Government, the school is committed to developing its facilities and ensuring that a high quality and modern solution is presented to learners in the future in line with Sustainable Communities for Learning standards.

The development, which is part of a joint Council and Welsh Government investment that forms part of a significant programme across a number of education projects in the Pontypridd area, will provide a new 6th form building and a separate gymnasium / multi-use hall building for the school. It will include site-wide additions including new bus and car parking areas, large landscaped social spaces, and new sports pitches. The project will start on site later this year and be required to meet the Net Zero Carbon targets of the Welsh Government.

The development will re-energise the existing school campus and create high-quality facilities whilst preserving the special environment of Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School.

The building has been configured and designed to achieve BREEAM excellent status that promotes passive measures that will create a clear, legible, open and inclusive environment that harnesses natural daylight and promoting views through the building whilst revealing and animating curriculum activities.

The proposed school building will be highly energy-efficient and is designed following the key principles of the net-zero carbon framework as developed by the UK Green Building Council. For energy management, the building is designed to be net-zero carbon through utilising an existing brownfield site and built with an efficient high thermal performance building envelope which will also act to minimise heat gains, and limit the requirement for air conditioning outside of the ICT classrooms.

Solar control glass will be utilised to minimise heat losses, alongside excellent insulation u-values, both are required to have high-quality airtightness. The rest of the building is predominantly passively ventilated through openable windows combined with ‘breathing building’ technology to provide a mixed-mode solution.

Good natural daylight levels are supplemented with responsive LED energy-efficient artificial lighting when levels drop, predominantly outside of school hours so limited use. South facing photovoltaic (PV) panels are provided at roof level on both buildings. Low-temperature air source heat pumps (ASHP) serve the underfloor heating, radiator, and radiant panel systems to heat the building efficiently. Hot water is provided by high-temperature heat pumps. Low flow taps and low flush rate WCs minimise water usage within the buildings. Electric car charging parking bays are provided in line with RCT standards.

The design delivers the needs of the school’s current curriculum with the provision of a modern flexible facility that accommodates modern methods of teaching whilst promoting collaborative and social learning. The new building will provide a connection between the school campus and the sports field and create an inspiring and engaging environment to enhance the student learning experience.