1000+ Words

The Multi Comfort specification for a multi purpose school building that promotes health and wellbeing

Download a PDF of the Multi Comfort Specification

The Requirements

The King's School, Worcester required a new Multi Comfort hall for sports, assemblies, drama, music & dance for their Junior School, King's Hawford. They envisaged the building being used for the school and for external lettings and events. This building was to replace the existing school hall (The Cobb, 141m2). The new multi-purpose hall would also have a requirement for a kitchen and servery for after-match catering and other functions and events, plus changing facilities with showers and bathrooms to suit all of the potential users.

Bartholomew Barn Kings School Worcester Multi Comfort


Like eating well and exercising, buildings can make us feel good and live well. We spend 90% of our time inside buildings; therefore, buildings should be designed for people. The Multi Comfort design concept is about building and renovating our homes, offices, school, hospitals and other buildings in a way that gives us improved comfort, health and wellbeing whilst protecting the environment.

Building Name

The King’s School, Worcester – ‘Bartholomew Barn’


Worcester, UK


Associated Architects, Birmingham 

Main Function

Multi-Purpose School Sports & Drama/Music Hall

Type of construction


Main Contractor

Speller Metcalf 

Project duration

Start: March 2015 – Finish: March 2016

Total Surface

280 sq meters.

Energy Consumption*
(kWh an/m²)

10 kWh/m2/yr at design stage – 18oC internal temp.

Energy Production (kWh an/m²)

8kWh PV array. (not part of above figure.)

King’s Hawford is one of the two Junior Schools of The King’s School, Worcester. Located on the outskirts of Worcester. Tto the north of the city, King’s Hawford sits in a beautiful, green field site which houses expansive sports pitches, a Forest School, a state of the art playground and an indoor swimming pool.


Associated Architects was formed in 1968 and aims to create architecture of the highest quality which embodies a deep sense of responsibility towards our clients, their buildings’ users and the environment. Based in Birmingham, we have designed buildings in the UK and elsewhere, for clients across the private and public sectors. These include schools, universities, offices, housing and urban regeneration schemes. Underpinning the continuing success of the practice is our ongoing commitment to the delivery of a highly professional service, and sustainability in the widest sense. 


Designing to ensure the thermal comfort of the pupils and teachers at Bartholomew Barn, meant designing the building’s temperature, humidity, airflow and radiant sources to all stay within an acceptable range for the activities within the building. For the pupils and teachers to be thermally comfortable for the variations in activity likely to take place in the building – from lessons to drama to sport – the thermal design including ventilation needed careful consideration.

The Multi Comfort design for Bartholomew Barn used a well-insulated fabric yet achieved by a relatively thin overall construction. The Barn makes use of the sun’s heat to warm the space, includes mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) to moderate the air temperature and humidity, and move air when it’s too warm. For larger events with more people in the Barn, automatic opening rooflights assist to expel air warm air if needed ensuring thermal comfort whatever the use.


It was envisaged that both the pupils and teachers at the King's School, would be more productive and happy if they’re not distracted by noises from outside or from surrounding spaces and occupants. The acoustic design parameters of Bartholomew Barn were to control via the building fabric for decibel levels (sound pressure), generated either outside the building, or inside the building. Barriers and sound breaks between internal sources of noise form the hall to the changing areas, and the hall to the kitchen and servery were designed to ensure acoustic comfort for all areas of the Barn.

Due to the variety of activities planned for the Barn needing good acoustics, such as drama and productions, music lessons and concerts, plus lessons and sports, particular consideration was given to the acoustic performance of the main hall space, including controlling reverberation. The design of Bartholomew Barns was optimized in terms of room shape and size to reduce echoes and reverberation, using Saint-Gobain solutions on ceilings and walls to dampen the sound.


The Multi Comfort concept supports the ethos that good lighting helps create a happy and productive environment. Maintaining visual comfort means ensuring that pupils and teachers at The King's School, have enough light for their activities, the light has the right quality and balance, and people have good views out to their surrounding area. Having good views and sight-lines gives people a sense of control of their environment and provides a sense of well-being. Natural light does this much better than electric lighting.  Good lighting is well-distributed, is not too dim or too strong, and uses minimal energy. Good visual comfort also generally means that as much of this light is natural light as possible. People are hard-wired to like the sun’s light and it saves energy.

Multi Comfort building design uses ‘daylighting autonomy’ strategies to help distribute sunlight inside a space. Artificial lights are also employed within Bartholomew Barn, but these are LEDs to reduce energy, with daylighting dimming controls, effective fixtures, and good lighting design.  Good controls were designed in to Bartholomew Barn to automatically balance natural and artificial lighting, with occupancy sensors.


In addition to air that’s the right temperature and humidity for thermal comfort, it’s important that air is clean, fresh, and circulated effectively in the space If air is too stale or is polluted, it can make people uncomfortable, unproductive, unhappy, and sick.  Fresh air helps people be alert, productive, healthy, and happy. Fresh air requires a certain percentage of outside air circulating into spaces.  Clean air requires pollutant and pathogen levels to be below certain thresholds

The Multi Comfort specification for Bartholomew Barn targeted to keep air fresh with high ventilation rates, using natural ventilation via automatic opening skylights, as well as the central mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system. The Multi Comfort specification also ensured that the indoor air was not contaminated with impurities from the building, such as volatile organic compounds from paints or materials, and used active scavenging technology to remove other impurities from the air to maximise the quality of the indoor-air for pupils and teachers alike.


The Multi Comfort Specification

When it comes to choosing product and system solutions for the Bartholomew Barn, selecting the right materials was key. This is where Saint-Gobain’s expertise in building science combined with our unrivalled product range makes a material difference. In the UK and Ireland, some of the best known and respected companies in the construction sector are part of Saint-Gobain. Together we offer a range of high performance, comfort enhancing, energy-saving products and solutions to help create a more sustainable built environment – to deliver Multi Comfort buildings.

Model of Multi Comfort building Bartholomews Barn at The Kings School Worcester

Celotex FR5000
Celotex FR5000 is a premium performance PIR solution. With a super low lambda of 0.021W/mK and Class O fire performance throughout the entire product, FR5000 provides an ideal option for better U-values and thinner solutions in pitched roof, wall and floor applications


Grade 3 Oriented Strand Board (OSB) was used from International Timber, where all products are sourced and supplied sustainably, by reducing environmental impact and being committed to the well-being of stakeholders.

Isover Timber Frame Batt

Thermal conductivity of 0.032 W/mK provides excellent thermal performance, reducing heat loss from the building envelope, to maintain excellent Thermal Comfort. Also, manufactured from up to 86% recycled post-consumer glass that would otherwise go to landfill.

Isover VARIO

A high performance membrane unique in providing excellent levels of airtightness with unparalleled

protection against moisture. Improves the energy efficiency of the building by reducing heat loss through the building envelope to a tenth of that of a conventional house. Improves thermal comfort by protecting against leaky cracks and joints which invariably cause uncomfortable draughts. Protects structural elements and ensures insulation works to optimum levels.

Rigidur H ACTIVair

High performance impact resistant gypsum fibre board with high levels of sound insulation, Class A2 and Class 0 reaction to fire performance and excellent fixing strength.

Developed for high traffic areas, this 100% recyclable board comes with ACTIVair technology. designed specifically to decompose formaldehyde emissions into non-harmful inert compounds, eliminating the risk of re-emission, and ensuring superior Indoor Air Comfort.

Ceiling: Ecophon Master SQ XL

Suitable for schools, open plan offices or other premises where strict demands are made on good acoustics and speech intelligibility. The tiles are bonded directly to the soffit surface. Ecophon Master SQ is installed with a gap between each tile, creating a ceiling with a smooth appearance. The tiles are not demountable.  The tiles are manufactured from high density glass wool. The visible surface has an Akutex™ FT coating and the back of the tile is covered with glass tissue. The edges are painted. The weight is approximately 5 kg/m². The product covers a significant quantity of the frequency range and therefore ensures vowels and consonants are understandable for speech intelligibility.

Walls: Akusto Wall C Super G

For use as wall absorbers together with a sound absorbing ceiling, to achieve excellent acoustic properties in the room. Ecophon Akusto™ Wall C has a concealed grid and the bevelled edges create a narrow groove between each panel. The panels are manufactured from high density glass wool. The visible surface has a glass fibre fabric (Texona) or an impact resistant glass fibre fabric (Super G), and is also available with a painted surface (Akutex™ FT). The back of the panel is covered with glass tissue. The edges are painted, and the front surface is partly covering the long edges 

Glassolutions Fixed Rooflights

Fixed rooflights are structurally triple glazed argon filled units with perimeter aluminium profiles fixed to an upstand. The aluminium is polyester powder coated with RAL colour to client choice. The glazing is then 50.8mm silicon edge SGG Coolite triple glazed unit. Overall the unit has u-value of less than 0.5.

SGG stadip Internally Clear laminated glass is used internally, with a securit clear toughened middle pain and Securit Coolite outer pain.


The central Glued Laminated Timber, or Glulam, structure from Pasquill was ideal for the long span load-bearing width requirements of Bartholomew Barn yet provides the stunning visual, barn-like appearance to fulfil the Design brief. Sourced from well managed forests and Chain of Custody certified, Pasquill Glulams are Eco-friendly and biodegradable, generating less atmospheric CO2 relative to other building products.


Sustainably sourced I-beams from Pasquill were used at Bartholomew Barn, offering not only a lighter wright alternative to traditional solid timber sections making the easier to handle and install, but providing Improved service installation. With a 9mm OSB/3 web allowing easy access for wiring, plumbing and mechanical ventilation & heat recovery systems

Isover Frame Façade Slab

Isover Frame Façade Slab is a low lambda rigid glass mineral wool slab providing a continuous layer of insulation around timber frame constructions. It has excellent thermal performance with a thermal conductivity of 0.031 W/mK and provides a continuous layer of insulation around the frame, reducing cold bridging and allowing very low U-values to be achieved

Oak Cladding

Sustainably sourced, 22mm untreated oak with a chamfered profile, procured especially to meet the Design Brief.

Inside of Bartholomews Barn kings School Worcester


LECA® Insufill is installed underneath the concrete slab and provides insulation and protection to services entering the building. LECA® is expanded clay lightweight aggregate, which offers good insulation and free-drainage properties. LECA® Insufill replaces the need for standard compacted limestone and for a sand blinding layer – also saving around 2 weeks from the build programme. Due to LECA® Insufill’s thermal qualities the overall floor thickness was reduced with the use of a thinner insulating board prior to the concrete slab. This has the additional environmental and economic benefit of reducing the amount of sub soil to be removed from site.

Climaver Pre-Insulated Ductwork

CLIMAVER® Pre-insulated ductwork system offers excellent thermal and acoustic performance in a fire safe, one-step installation system. It is economical and efficient compared to conventional ‘sheet metal and insulation’ two-step ductwork system. 


Expert kitchen designers from Jewson recommended a design for Bartholomew Barn that ensured a good value solution with all components arriving on site right first time.

Sanitary Ware

Neville lumb is a market-leading supplier of commercial sanitaryware to new build and refurbishment projects. Their combination of knowledge and experience, as well as national coverage and extensive product ranges, meant they could easily support the requirements of Bartholomew Barn.

Doors & Ironmongery

High grade ironmongery from George Boyd was supplied with their expert scheduling service ensuring complete compatibility of components and an excellent finish for the Bartholomew Barns.

Rainwater Goods

High quality drainage and manhole covers. 

Internal Finishes

International Decorative Surfaces (IDS) is the UK's largest distributor of surfacing materials specialising in flooring, worktops, laminates, panel products and solid surfacing. With a stockholding of more than 12000 product lines, IDS provide immediate access to an unrivalled palette of design led finishes. IDS supplied the finishes for the changing rooms including showers for the Bartholomew Barn.