Saint Francois d'Assise School

In need of additional classrooms, Saint-François d'Assise school in Tubize embarked on a major renovation and construction programme. The project design was based on a mixed structure combining concrete and timber. The work schedule included demolition of one of the school buildings and reconstruction of a new wing, consisting of a basement, ground floor and three upper floors, all meeting the "energy efficiency" standard. The building has fourteen 50 ㎡ classrooms, accommodating around 350 pupils.

This project was an opportunity to raise the school's profile in the town. A combination of bluestone and brick was chosen for the ground-floor façades, which support the rest of the building and are subject to the risk of vandalism, while timber was chosen for its light, warm look in the upper-storey façades not exposed to this risk. The third storey was covered in zinc to give it a more roof-like appearance.

On the side facing the street, the architect used a combination of timber battens and gaps to give a feeling of intimacy and to prevent overheating, as this part of the building faces due south. The mixed façade also has fixed wooden shutters at regular intervals to break up the surface.

The architect chose afzelia for the cladding. This is a hard, dense wood that develops an even patina. Afzelia offers guaranteed long-term durability and an attractive appearance. The timber underwent vacuum fire-retardant autoclave treatment (no other treatment was applied).

Very stringent fire requirements were one of the drawbacks to an entirely timber load-bearing structure. As this is a school, a mixed concrete/timber structure is an ideal solution. The building is therefore a mixed structure with floor tiles, girders and columns made of reinforced concrete, with an external timber framework and cellulose flake insulation in the exterior walls and roof.

A timber framework has several benefits from the point of view of the mixed approach. It means that a larger useful area is available, as the casings of the interior walls are thinner than would be the case if a different technique had been used, though the results in terms of insulation, for example, are the same. This technique also ensures excellent draught performance. Finally, the carbon footprint of the materials used is very small.

All the interior woodwork in the classroom is made of afzelia, and the frames are timber on the inside and aluminium on the outside. Reverberation is a more serious acoustic problem than transmission through the floor. This is why the rooms have acoustic ceilings made of wood fibre and lime panels.

The building has many energy-efficiency features, including triple glazing and two-way ventilation, recovering about 85% of the energy. The rotary wheel exchanger system also maintains a good level of air humidity and provides a comfortable atmosphere in winter.

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Fact sheet
Client Collège Saint-François d'Assise asbl
Architects TRAIT architects Norrenberg & Somers
Structural engineers Stability Engineer: MC-Carré - Other Engineer: MK
Main Contractors CBD sa
Suppliers of wood solutions Hayez sa - Joncheere - Pierret System
Building size 1641 ㎡
Construction time 1 year and 10 months
Budget 2.382.000 € ex; VAT
Year of completion 2011
Location Tubize, Brabant Wallon
Saint-François d'Assise school 1
Saint-François d'Assise school 2
Saint-François d'Assise school 3
Saint-François d'Assise school 4
Saint-François d'Assise school 5

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