Divine Mercy Primary School

Architect: Robinson Design

Main Contractors: Willmott Dixon

Location: Manchester

Project Architects, Robinson Design, had originally specified internal blockwork walls for the Divine Mercy Roman Catholic Primary School, but in discussions with main contractor Willmott Dixon agreed that fermacell board provided a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution.

fermacell's Area Manager Phill Mattatia commented: "We took representatives from Willmott Dixon to view the new £34m AV Hill Research Facility - at the University of manchester -w hich opened last year. Within the building all internal partitions were constructed with fermacell wallboard on steel sub frames.

"The Eco properties of fermacell, which is made from 100% recycled materials (and is fully recyclable) contributed towards the building being awarded an excellent BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) Rating. This aspect of the product, together with its durability, excellent acoustic properties and impact resistance, helped seal the deal."

The new two-storey primary school - formed from the merging of St Edwards RC School and Bilsborrow RC Primary School, can accommodate 420 pupils and also comprises a 60 place nursery.It is laid out in three seperate areas with two teaching wings and an administration block containing a well equipped sports halls and separate dining area.

This development is part of a significant regeneration project of Moss Side and Rushholme that includes a health centre and retail developments for the area. The School will be complemented on the Maine Road site by 444 new homes by Lowry Homes that will improve housing quality and choice int he area. There is also a proposal for a new Manchester Primary Care NHS Trust health centre.

Robinson Group Architect Lorna Tolson commented: "fermacell has provied to be an affordable and robust partition system offering excellent acoustic properties as well as meeting required fire ratings. From a contractors' point of view, being able to use a standard board throughout also helps speeds up the installation process."

"A six metre high by two metres wide (approx) stained glass window - designed by a specialist artist, with input from children from both predecessor schools - is a focal point of the building and comprises abstract religious figures and images. One of the main dseign deatures within the school is a large open central dining space and multi-purpose area with imposing double height fermacell walling. This bright space also comprises an open central staircase leading to a first floor bridge. Within the building are two teaching wings; the first comprising a big open plan foundation unit on the ground floor with a combined reception and nursery class accommodating up to 125 children. One of the features of this area is a brightly coloured an gently curving feature wall, housing a small group room off the central area. The second wing at ground floor comprises the more traditional enclosed style classrooms for Key Stage 1 pupils. On the first floor of each teaching wing are four Key Stage 2 classrooms each equipped with external balconies. Everyone involved is very pleased with the quality of the finish achieved with fermacell and are particularly pleased with the crisp finish around the window reveals and corners," She said. 

Willmott Dixon Site Manager Simon Atkinson, commented: "The durability of fermacell was an important factor in us using this material. We anticiapted wet weather and needed a board that could stand up to any driving rain that may come into contact with it. fermacell withstood the weather conditions and ensured that no time was lost having to replace boards - something which would have happened with plasterboard.It was the first time I had worked with fermacell board and will certainly be using it again. The technical support that we received from fermacell's Phil matattia was excellent and, next time, I would look to bring them on board earlier in the project, particularly with reference to fireboarding and jointing."