Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng

Celebrating old and new

Powys Council
Gross Internal floor area
New build: 1020 m2 Existing: 6657m2
£9.1 M
Construction Type
Timber frame and retrofit
Summer 2023

“This building is a true reflection of us as a school - we LOVE it! The combination of the old and the new is perfect and although both buildings so different, the use of the link combines the two perfectly. The different areas enable all stakeholders to feel comfortable during the school day and out of school hours. There is a place for all events and it enriches the teaching and learning environment to the maximum. We can now hold events to showcase the talents of our children and improve our relationship with our community even further.

The children feel at ease in their new environment and enjoy the fluidity of the build and have ownership of their school. The children show pride of the Passivhaus element and are proud of the architectural aspects, often explaining the concept to visitors. They are always monitoring the temperature and control their classroom temperatures. Also, considering we are situated by a busy bypass, this is not an issue - you cannot hear a thing - which has impacted positively on concentration and behaviour.

We feel so fortunate to been located in such a wonderful building. The pops of colour and energy within the wood which entice wondering eyes to our wonderful building. Impactful. Innovation. Inspirational. Diolch yn fawr- WE LOVE IT!"

Angharad Davies
Headteacher of Ysgol Gymraeg Y Trallwng

“This fantastic development, which will be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the UK and contribute to reducing carbon emissions in the county, will provide an environment for pupils and teaching staff to reach their potential while providing important community facilities."

Councillor Pete Roberts
Cabinet Member for a Learning Powys, Powys Council

The Welsh language school, Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng, is a sensitive retrofit and expansion, with the new Passivhaus hall and classrooms joined with a welcoming link entrance to the historic Grade II listed Maesydre school. It is believed to be the first school in the UK to be part Passivhaus and part retrofit and is Architype’s second Passivhaus school in Powys, following the award-winning Welshpool Church in Wales primary school. Because of its eco credentials, it has already been featured on S4C, the Welsh Channel 4 TV channel. The inventive project cleverly combines old and new, liberating an historic school from later unsympathetic additions and expanding it with a new timber wing and native landscaping to create beautiful and healthy indoor and outdoor spaces for learning.

Radical future

The new 150-place school was completed for Powys County Council under its Transforming Education Programme creating spaces that support wellbeing and modern teaching methods. The community of Welshpool will also be able to access public facilities within the historic building including a beautiful hall to extend the cultural significance of the site.

Iconic history

The need to retain the original Grade II listed building was seen as an opportunity to create a new and accessible school that provides an inspiring environment for all. Architype collaborated closely with conservation architects Graham Frecknall to carefully refurbish and accommodate staff areas, early years, and community facilities with a new corridor linking to the new ultra energy efficient Passivhaus building, Maesydre was designed by the arts and craft architect Frank Shayler in 1896 as a result of a competition to design a new school. The citation by the assessors described his scheme as being “... most admirably adapted for the purpose of the proposed structure and taken as a whole the accommodation, together with the scholastic fitness were [is] everything to be desired.” (The Montgomery County Times, Saturday, 8 February 1896).

The Grade II listed building has been sensitively updated, with the original decorative vaulted ceiling of the hall uncovered and restored. To visually unite the two buildings, the scheme includes complementary interior finishes and furniture and elements of new timber exterior cladding and canopies for the existing building that blend with the new timber clad block.

Extensive research and community consultation was undertaken with reference to new build guidance from Cadw – the Welsh body that protects the historic environment in Wales; the Welsh Wellbeing and Future Generation Act; and national and local planning policies; steering the design team to a concept that both protects and celebrates the existing building and provides outstanding new learning spaces.

The concept

The school is exemplary in its approach to low energy design, following the principle of eco-minimalism to achieve Passivhaus certification. The design vision was to provide an inspiring, welcoming, and secure environment for teaching and learning, as well as integration with the wider community. The school provides high quality education which promotes independent, lifelong learning in an environment based on respect, tolerance, and friendship. This is reflected in the school motto “Gyda’n gilydd yn gwneud ein gorau glas” - Together we will try our very best.

Inclusive Design

The design integrates new teaching and community spaces while preserving the original school building's significance. By incorporating natural materials and technological features, it creates a sustainable, comfortable, and healthy environment. The main visitor entrance is located at the west end of the existing building, while a secondary entrance serves pupils in the link space between the existing and new buildings. All main school classrooms are in the new building, ensuring an ideal teaching environment. A central single-story link building connects the listed building, providing small group teaching space. Early years education has a separate entrance for safety and to allow for flexible hours. The original double-height main hall is included for community use, with independent access. The design prioritises accessibility, flexible spaces, and year-to-year progression. It offers inspiring outdoor spaces with play areas, game areas and sports pitches.

Green roof and native planting

An extensive green roof is integrated on the west wing of the main new building block and to the central link roof, with lightweight, drought tolerant and low maintenance planting. To the south of the building, the wildflower and wetland grass areas include a drainage swale – a shallow pond to manage rainwater run off and remove pollutants. Formal planting encloses the playing field and enhances the suburban pedestrian approach with beautiful native species such as ornamental cherries, leading to native woodland planting including oak, birch and pine trees to help integrate the development into the more rural landscape. Native feathered tree groups and species rich grassland are supplemented with ‘scrapes,’ log piles, bug hotels and other wildlife friendly measures for biodiversity net gain and offer opportunities for field study and outdoor learning. To the east, planting integrates and screens the multi-use games area. The outdoor spaces also offer flexibility to cater for gardens and growing areas, activities and play as well as formal sports provision.

Passivhaus and energy benefits

The listed building's reuse focuses on enhancing energy and material efficiency. Environmental principles restore its original "breathing" structure with natural ventilation while replacing outdated heating systems. Elements of the original fabric such as windows and doors were repaired or replaced to bring them back into working order. Materials such as roof tiles and bricks reclaimed from demolished parts are re-used where possible to make repairs and reinstate lost architectural details.

The new Passivhaus building optimises and controls solar gains and minimises noise impact. The fabric is highly insulated with minimal cold bridging. Natural ventilation cross ventilates spaces in the summer, while Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) ensures excellent air quality - great for children’s concentration - and heat reuse in winter. This approach dramatically reduced the energy required to create a comfortable building, and achieved a great air tightness result of 0.47 air changes per hour.

Ecological design

As well as cutting energy consumption, wider ecological issues are addressed, such as enhancing ecology and biodiversity, reducing embodied carbon and VOCs in materials as far as possible, low water usage, energy generation from solar panels, optimising natural daylight and glare control, and encouraging recycling. Building performance evaluation by Powys Council will help the building run ultra efficiently and provide lessons learnt for future projects.

Project Partners

Graham Frecknall Architecture and Design
Conservation architect
Engineering, all disciplines
Wynne Construction
Lowfield Timber Frames
Timber frame


  • Shortlisted for a Constructing Excellence Wales Award 2024
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