A lesson in wellbeing

Multi Comfort is a design concept that brings together the latest building materials and construction techniques to create homes, schools and workplaces that deliver optimum comfort for users to improve wellbeing, as well as environmental performance.

Developed by Saint-Gobain, the concept can work alongside the Passivhaus standard and considers thermal, indoor-air, acoustic and visual comforts. Now, the first Multi Comfort building in the UK is complete – Bartholomew Barn, part of King’s Hawford junior school, in Worcester.

King’s Hawford prides itself on offering an outstanding educational experience. Set in 30 acres of parkland, it comprises sports pitches, a forest school, playground, indoor swimming pool, design, history, geography and music facilities.

While the school had an existing hall, used for sports and assemblies, it required an additional space to accommodate sports, music and drama, as well as external events. The new hall also needed a kitchen and servery for catering, changing facilities, showers and bathrooms.

As a family-centred school focused on making children feel valued, happy and optimistic, creating a space that was enjoyable to use and encouraged learning and development was vital. A range of aesthetic considerations also had to be factored in to the design to reflect the existing architecture and surrounding countryside.

Because the new hall, Bartholomew Barn, is a truly multi-purpose space, a key challenge was ensuring it would provide a comfortable temperature for all users.  By adopting the Multi Comfort standard, the design selected considers the effects of temperature, humidity, ventilation and air flow to achieve a balanced but flexible thermal comfort level.

This was achieved through a combination of highly insulated building fabric, automatic opening skylights and a central ventilation system with heat recovery. This ensures a constant supply of clean, fresh air and a balanced temperature helping pupils stay alert and productive.

To ensure premium acoustic comfort, the building fabric design created a space that controls noise coming in or out, while providing a good internal acoustic environment. The specification of high performance partition systems from British Gypsum helps minimise noise transfer between the separated spaces. 

By integrating correctly sized and positioned absorbing wall and ceiling panels from Ecophon throughout the internal space, acoustic reverberation is also controlled. These excellent acoustic properties created through design and careful product selection allow pupils and teachers to hear one other more clearly, improving concentration, participation and engagement. 

Multi Comfort school design has a strong outdoor focus to give a sense of wellbeing and control, as well as create a productive learning environment. By placing floor to ceiling windows on the southern façade of the hall, the design takes advantage of natural light and scenic views, while using solar heat energy to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Using the Multi Comfort concept for Bartholomew Barn, King’s Hawford has raised the standard for educational buildings, creating a space that is as efficient to run and manage as it is effective in helping pupils learn and develop.

Associated Architects (architect) and Speller Metcalfe (main contractor) worked with Saint-Gobain on this Multi Comfort design and build.

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