St John’s CE Primary School


Project Details

Reading Borough Council

Project Manager
HCC Property Services

Miller Construction


Contract Period
55 weeks

Procurement Type
2 Stage Tender

Form of Contract
JCT 2011 Standard form of

2500 sqm
2FE Expansion to 420 spaces

St Johns Primary School is one of the first projects to be completed under the second generation Framework and the first that Reading Borough Council delivered jointly as part of the Property Services Cluster Initiative with Hampshire and Surrey County Councils. The project involved a new build 8 classroom teaching block as well as remodelling and refurbishment of the existing school to accommodate an expansion to a two form entry school.

Features of the new project include:

  • 1000m2 new build block on 2 floors achieving BREEAM ‘Very Good/ Excellent’ standard.
  • 1500m2 of refurbishment / remodelling of existing school and attached church.
  • Re modelling of existing landscape including creation of a new multi use games area and community play park.
  • Fabric first design based on a Passivhaus approach – super insulated and high airtightness.
  • Classrooms naturally ventilated using E-Stack system.

Key Challenges

  • Pupil Demand and Restricted Site
  • Complex and multiple Stakeholders in a “live” environment
  • Programme Pressure and Phasing

How Soft Landings delivered a successful building

The project is one of the first in the UK to adopt Soft Landings through all stages of the project. Soft Landings is a national initiative developed to improve the operational performance of buildings before and after handover. The primary focus for achieving this was consultation and collaboration.

  • Viability study undertaken at stage A to establish whether this was the right project for the right site.
  • An Operational Performance Workshop was held at stage D for design team, contractor client and end user to identify and if possible to design out elements likely to cause problems after handover. This then led to the formation of a specific risk register which was monitored regularly through design and construction to track potential problems.
  • Regular and frequent co-ordination meetings with school, church and client throughout construction phase minimised disruption and established clear communication of snags and defects.
  • Building Familiarisation including workshops with pupils and staff , training sessions with caretaker and Building User Guide.
  • Fine tuning of Building Services including seasonal commissioning. The heating systems were commissioned in the summer and underwent a second period of adjustment in December to ensure optimum performance.
  • On going energy monitoring and post occupancy evaluation after 12 months.

Lessons Learnt

  • Regular discussion of operational performance at site progress meetings helped to identify potential problems at an early stage. The E-stack ventilation system was of particular interest as this was a technology which both design team and contractor were unfamiliar with; using the register we were able to refine the installation to avoid conflicts with the building management and to improve access for yearly maintenance.
  • Engagement of end user is critical to achieve best performance; they need to understand how their building is supposed to work. This is especially important if you are asking users to do something counter intuitive. The stack system relies on cool fresh air dropping into the building from above and allows for summer night time cooling. So in very hot weather, it is important to keep the windows closed to retain the cooler air inside. The familiarisation event run by the contractor and E stack was a real success as it helped explain how this worked in an engaging and non technical way.
  • Adopting Soft Landings does not necessarily insulate against a ‘hard landing’ at handover. The first phase of this project suffered delays which required occupation of the ground floor of the new build before all elements were complete. The first floor and refurbishment phases were much smoother with the benefit of the contractor still being on site to address quality issues and fine tuning from the first phase.
  • The post occupancy evaluation later this year includes a thorough check of actual energy consumption against predicted and benchmark figures. It is also accompanied by a staff satisfaction survey which although subjective, will help pin point any problem areas relating to operability and comfort. This data will be valuable in understanding the financial benefits of adopting Soft Landings on both this project and nationally
ContractGateway 2 PlanningGateway 3 Contract AgreementVariation
Time55 weeks55 weeks0


Miller Construction

Hampshire County Council: