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Case Study 10 – Thurso College

Name of building
Thurso College, Centre for Energy and the Environment
Date Completed
2010 (under construction)
Building type
Thurso, Sutherland
HRI Architects LLP
North Highland College, University of the Highlands and Islands
Main contractor

Robertson Highland

Anticipated lifespan of building
100+ years

Timber technologies

The main structure is made from glulam columns and beams. Cross Laminated Panels (CLP) have been used for the upper floor and some inner walls. External walls and roof purlins are made from engineered timber I-beams. These are light to handle and very thermally efficient.

Special timber-related features

The combination of CLP and glulam structure was chosen as they are both materials with low embodied energy, which have the ability to lock up atmospheric CO 2 . They also clearly visually embrace the ideas and ideals of sustainability.

The cladding is either untreated European larch, or Scots pine treated with furfuryl alcohol (a process that uses a natural alcohol made from sugar cane). This preserves the timber leaving no adverse environmental impact during its manufacture, life, removal or destruction. In addition, the choice of materials is quicker to erect than the usual steel and concrete structures used in commercial buildings, saving six weeks on the build programme.

The CLP is strong and visually attractive and as such can be used as the finished article with minimal finishing. The CLT has also been used as the 1 hour fire separating wall around the fire escape stair without any treatment, due to its known behaviour in fire conditions.

Background to building

This new extension to Thurso College will provide a base for the Environmental Research Institute (ERI). The building’s design reflects the aspirations of the ERI, marrying its ethos to the built environment that will be its home.

It is important that the building is recognised by its users to have a strong environmental agenda. As such, the design embraces pragmatic environmental principles which can be easily identified, and which create a functional and pleasant working environment that reflects the work of the ERI.

A JJI-Joist is a structurally engineered timber joist, combining high-grade softwood with an engineered composite panel. Using advanced technology these components are combined to produce

Scotlarch® is the registered trade name for Russwood’s selected heartwood of Scottish-grown European Larch. A hard tough timber which dried quickly. It is about 50

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