Nov 23, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

A creative heating installation for Plymouth School of Creative Arts

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Sponsored by Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth School of Creative Arts is a brand new free school in the heart of the city which teaches children from reception through to year 11.


Offering a unique concept in learning, Plymouth School of Creative Arts looks to educate children through making, performing and discovering. It aspires to the motto ‘Creating Individuals, Making Futures’ and sets to develop well-rounded pupils who are able to contribute positively to the world in which they live.

In order to achieve its learning objectives the school needed a new, purpose-built building that would effectively accommodate the wide range of activities and learning environments it required to deliver its teaching. To assist it in achieving its goals, the school commissioned award-winning firm, Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, to design and create its new school, and Kier to undertake the construction.

After opening the primary phase in September 2013 and the secondary phase in September 2014, the school finally took full possession of its amazing new building in February 2015. The result is a striking, red-coloured, four-storey structure with strong lines and a dramatic overhang, which serves as a physical representation of the school’s creative and aspirational approach.

The artistic design of the building continues on the inside as the learning environment comprises specialist making and performing spaces, including a dance studio, theatre, recording studio, four-court sports hall and ‘making’ workshops. The teaching areas are designed to accommodate up to 200 pupils at any one time and have the flexibility to be partitioned according to the activities that are taking place.

“The ethos of the school was to create large working spaces with exposed services,” explains Iain Potter, Principal Engineer at AECOM. “The open design meant that heat output was a key factor in the specification of the heating system and with high ceilings and a clean appearance we needed a solution that would effectively blend with the architecture.”

Meeting these key objectives, Zehnder Carboline radiant heating panels have been installed throughout the open teaching spaces and lecture theatres. Manufactured from natural graphite, the Zehnder Carboline benefits from an extremely fast reaction time and achieves an even heat distribution with exceptional controllability. Hung freely from the exposed soffit, the panels also provide an industrial aesthetic in keeping with the modern design of the building.

“As an effective space heating solution, we have been able to heat the whole of the internal area and create a comfortable indoor climate throughout the building,” adds John Warden, Project Engineer at Lorne Stewart, M&E Contractors for the project. “The ratio of heat output to panel size and unobtrusive nature of the Zehnder Carboline panels means that the school is able to utilise the floor space as they see fit, whilst ensuring appropriate comfort levels for staff and pupils. The radiant heating panels have also been interfaced with acoustic and luminaire panels to meet the school’s principal objective of exposing services within the building's structure.”

In addition to the teaching areas, Zehnder panels have also been installed throughout the four-court sports hall on the second floor. “The sheer size of the space and the high floor-to-ceiling height effectively ruled out the use of perimeter or underfloor heating,” explains Iain Potter. “Radiant was once again the preferred heating method for this large space and Zehnder ZBN radiant heating panels were suspended from the ceiling.”

Specifically designed for large space heating, including sports halls, the Zehnder ZBN provides a uniform heat distribution and is ideal for use where robustness is important.

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