Innovative Passivhaus design clinches new £23m school replacement in Powys



Appointments have been awarded for a major £23 million all-through school project in Machynlleth, Wales; the latest big budget education project to be announced through Wales’ 21st Century Schools funding programme.

Procured through the South West Wales Contractors Framework, the winning team for the replacement Ysgol Bro Hyddgen is led by Welsh contractors Dawnus Construction, supported by Architype, global engineering team WSP, and award-winning landscape architects, Churchman Landscape Architects.

The winning design seeks to create an inspirational environment and a sense of progression for pupils in the rural Powys town, which provides ‘cradle to college’ mainstream education from nursery to 6th form. Balancing the changing needs of pupils and staff as they progress through a possible 17 years at the welsh language school was a key design consideration, as well as the sustainable future for the school, which is underpinned by an innovative Passivhaus design.

The Passivhaus design and delivery offer was the necessary added value approach that won Powys County Council’s stamp of approval. Confidence in the Passivhaus standard has been growing amongst education authorities in Wales since the completion of Burry Port Community Primary school in 2015.

Since then the Dawnus/Architype/WSP collaboration have embarked on a joint venture to develop a low cost, standardised Passivhaus model, in line with Welsh Government well-being aspirations, branded Patrwm 21[1]. Ysgol Bro Hyddgen will be the fifth school project delivered by the Patrwm 21 model since it’s conception two years ago; evidence of it’s popularity and potential to replicate on a range of briefs.

The angular forms and intersecting arrangement of massing is softened by an interesting and varied palette of Welsh, natural materials. As a gateway site to the town of Machynllyth, the design strikes an important balance between the surrounding hilly woodland countryside and the introduction to the towns development.

Due to complete in September 2020, the new 6500m2 school will be built on Ysgol Bro Hyddgen’s current playing fields, with the old school being demolished after occupation to make space for car parking and sporting facilities, including a 3G pitch to provide pupils and the community an accessible ground for team fitness during the wet winter months.

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Portfolio holder for Education, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander said;

“Powys County Council are delighted to announce our ambitious plans for education in Machynlleth. The education communities have already embraced the advantages of an all-through school and this new delivery model will in future take place in Wales’ first passivhaus through school.” 

Associate Director of Architype, Lee Fordham said:

“We are delighted to be commencing with our 6th Passivhaus school project in Wales. It is great to see a growing enthusiasm for the standard amongst local authorities in Wales.”



[1]Patrwm; (welsh language for Pattern) 21;in reference to the 21st Century schools funding programme. The Patrwm 21 approach aims to support environmental, economic and social agendas. The Passivhaus standard will ensure low ongoing costs for the local authority, as well as creating a healthy environment for learning as indicated in the results of Passivhaus school monitoring, which shows optimised temperatures in classrooms all year round and low levels of CO2. The sourcing of local Welsh materials reduced the carbon footprint of construction, whilst supporting local economies.