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The structural ground-floor slab was designed

to incorporate a proprietary underfloor

heating system. Suspended post-tensioned

slabs were designed at an early stage to ensure

that heavy pieces of plant such as air-handling

and fan-coil units could be suspended directly

from the soffit of the slab rather than having

to introduce additional supports. In addition,

the plant room located on the first-floor slab

was designed to allow boilers and other large

items of plant to be placed on it without

additional structural support.

Inherent properties

The inherent properties of concrete were

exploited to the full on this project. For

example, a two-hour fire rating was required.

The concrete columns and slabs achieved

this without any special measures, while the

steelwork was required to be fire protected.

The thermal mass of the concrete was

also exploited in the heating scheme in

conjunction with natural ventilation.

While the main frame of the teaching

block was constructed in concrete, other

areas throughout the project also used the

same material. For example, concrete ground

beams were installed between concrete

pad foundations and were used to support

composite cladding panels in the sports hall,

and an in-situ retaining wall was designed

and constructed to create a service walkway

and plant room beneath the swimming

pool. Composite slabs were used to form the

surround to the swimming pool and external

plaza, and precast slabs were used at the

assisted learning entrance; precast stairs were

used within the stair cores.

As mentioned earlier, concrete pad

foundations were used in the sports block.

They were also used in the teaching block

but due to extensive levels of upfill, precast

manhole rings were employed as permanent

shutters. Precast lintels were used throughout,

as were precast steps externally. Finally,

precast retaining wall units were used both in

the undercroft area and service yard entrance

to accommodate the site’s extensive level


The concrete was executed to a high

standard throughout and notably in those

areas where the material was intended to be

left exposed, such as the classrooms soffits

and stair cores. Setting-out drawings for

formlinings were created to ensure their

impressions on the finished exposed soffits

and walls were acceptable aesthetically.

Completed classroom.

Harris Academy, Dundee


Dundee City Council

Main contractor

Robertson Construction Group


Holmes Miller

Structural engineer

Goodson Associates

M&E consulting engineer

TÜV SÜDWallace Whittle

Concrete frame contractor

Carey Group

PT slab designer

Interspan (Europe)

Precast stair supplier

Creagh Concrete (Scotland)

Precast retaining wall supplier

Forterra (then Hanson Building Products)

Under construction.