Fermacell helps bring Ellon Academy into the 21st Century

A BREEAM ‘Very good’ rated super school uses fermacell dry-lining.

Some 50,000m² of fermacell dry-lining features on one of the largest projects the manufacturer has ever supplied – a new state-of-the-art super school in Scotland.

The £36 million Ellon Academy Community Campus in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, has made use of fermacell BBA-approved 12.5mm gypsum fibreboards throughout the main teaching block as well as the company’s cement bonded water and fire-resistant Powerpanel H20 boards in the area of the school’s 25m competition-standard swimming pool.

The products were installed throughout the steel-framed building with blockwork infill and curtain walling by teams of up to 10 men over a 17-month period. The work was carried out by specialist sub-contractor Bangivens Drylining on behalf of main contractor Farrans Construction.

The new Ellon Academy Community Campus is a replacement for the old campus which dates back to the early 1900s and was split in two by a main road in the town centre. The new project is one of the most costly ventures undertaken by Aberdeenshire Council and has achieved a BREEAM ‘Very good’ rating.

As well as the swimming pool, it comprises a theatre with cinema-style seating and projection for assemblies, two gymnasiums, four games halls, outdoor sports pitches, five community rooms, a fitness suite and a canteen with space for 240 people at any one time.

The community rooms were earmarked for use by groups such as the local photography club and a nursery and creche while another part of the new building is used by the North East Scotland College Ellon Learning Centre, offering full and part-time courses.

Each of the three floors is devoted to a different field of study. The ground floor is home to sports and physical education facilities, creative arts studios, media and music departments and the canteen.

The second floor features a dedicated third and fourth year community area as well as the maths, business education and science departments. The top floor is set aside for the fifth and sixth year students and is the base for the humanities, history, English and geography departments. This floor also contains an expansive library with museum-style glass cabinets for displaying local and historical items of interest.

Ellon campus project manager Mike Porter said they had specified the use of fermacell given its successful use at Mearns Academy Community Campus prior to the construction of Ellon.

Mr Porter said,

“The product complied with acoustic performance etc dependent on build-up recommended. It primarily interfaced with door and window screens with no significant difficulty and Velfax windows or curtain walling on the external walls – again with no significant problems.

“One of the main problems with the old school was that it was a split campus, divided 50-50 across a main road. What we have now is a well-lit, open environment which creates a very good space in which to both work and learn. It is pleasing to see the end result of a lot of people’s efforts. We had to get it up and running quite quickly but we are under budget, on time and on programme.”

Francis O’Kane from Bangiven Drylining said the fermacell boards performed very well.

He said,

“They can be used in poor or wet conditions as they dry out naturally which enables us to finish the programme a lot sooner.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s clerk of works for the building Alex Buchan pointed out how the old school was two ages of building – one from the early 1900s and another from the 1960s.

He said,

“It has taken two years to build this one from the ground up and at least a couple of years in the development stages.”

Tim McKay has been head teacher at Ellon Academy for nine years and described the new complex as “absolutely fantastic.”

He said,

“I think the important thing is that the facilities are first-rate for the kids and the community. Compared to what they had before our facilities are fit for 21st Century education.”

Ellon councillor Richard Thomson said the building has been a long time coming. He said,

“The old building had clearly been worn out for a while and now we have a purpose-built facility that will serve Ellon and the surrounding area hopefully for years to come.”

The community campus’ roots in the old Ellon Academy will live on in a new artwork on the glass front of the swimming pool. Inspired by the local River Ythan, the ‘River of Words’ is made up of messages from school pupils connecting the two buildings. It was made in conjunction with artist in residence Mary Bourne.