An exciting new venue to enhance the teaching and learning experience at Durham The curtain rises on the newly refurbished Assembly Rooms Theatre


Zumtobel has provided the lighting for the Assembly Rooms at Durham University. The lighting has played a very important role in the £2.4m refurbishment, which has given the Assembly Rooms on North Bailey a new lease of life and made it a theatre for the 21st Century. In addition, Zumtobel have also provided the lighting for Durham University’s Lower Mountjoy Building.

The Assembly Rooms was originally an 18th Century ballroom, before being redeveloped as a theatre in 1869 in response to Durham’s Theatre Royal burning down. Durham University took over the Assembly Rooms in 1930 and refurbished it in the 1950s so that it could start hosting theatre productions once again.

The latest redevelopment has repaired, restored, and improved the historic building, including the restoration of the 220-seat, 150-year-old theatre’s original ceiling and improved disabled access. The restoration also includes internal redecoration throughout, revamping the box office, refurbishment of all the toilets, replacement of the existing heating system and renewing and repairing all of the windows and doors.

The brief required a mix of contemporary architecture with modern lighting. Zumtobel worked with Armstrong Rhead Consulting Engineers, to offer the right combination of aesthetics, performance, and energy efficiency. The lighting solution was complicated, as some areas could only be surface mounted and the walls, as well as, certain points of interest, needed to use a small light source to maintain an open space feel. Some areas also required a pendant luminaire to create visual interest, so a variety of track and pendant luminaires were selected.


Zumtobel’s track mounted SUPERSYSTEM II illuminates the entrance area with its wall wash attachments and individual recessed spotlights. This slim-profile LED spotlight track system for low-voltage lighting applications, is 1 inch wide and provides a full range of lighting options for general, accent, direct, indirect, and wall-washing applications in lumen packages up to 1,250 lumens. The versatile trackheads are available in mini, midi, and maxi sizes and with a variety of beam options including, superspot, spot, flood, wide flood, oval outline vertical, framing, wall-washer, and line. The LED modules are available in 2700K, 3000K and 4000K.

ONDARIA suspended luminaires allow directionally neutral placement in the entrance area. The circular luminaire allows for fully flexible positioning and complements a variety of different room concepts. The subtle indirect lighting component creates a floating impression and the clean, design gives ONDARIA a modern appearance. Whether recessed, surface-mounted or as a pendant luminaire – the clear geometry enhances the architecture without detracting from the interior styling.

The offices are illuminated with VAERO, a streamlined fitting that discreetly fits into any room architecture and, when switched off, its transparent lighting wings are hardly detectable. What remains is a narrow middle bar that conceals the flat converter box. When switched on, the lamp transforms into a magical light object, frameless and transparent, with a super-thin light-emitting surface that perfects the purist design. The essential requirement for the unique design of the VAERO pendant luminaire, with its invisible qualities, is the state-of-the-art Side-Lit technology. This guides the light from the linear light source into the transparent light conductor panels and distributes it evenly from the centre to the edge.

Slim and elegant CAELA LED luminaires have been installed on the first floor stairwells to add a decorative touch behind the scenes. The common origin of the extraordinarily slender CAELA is a standard surface-mounted fitting, which, depending on the model, is developed into a round or square luminaire with a symmetric or asymmetric beam. This enables each luminaire to be mounted to the ceiling and wall without additional accessories. There is also the possibility to change the luminaires at a later time, thus changing to a different size, beam or shape. The pendant set accessory transforms the surface-mounted luminaire into a pendant luminaire.


The theatre will be a home to local theatre companies ‘Grim Up North’ and ‘Elysium Theatre’, as well as the Durham University Students Theatre, with a very exciting program of events planned for everyone across the county for staff and students alike. 

For more information on Zumtobel please visit the website


West Lothian has one of the best school estates in Scotland, thanks to ongoing investment throughout the area. It has recently added a new £1.5 million state-of-the-art Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) centre next to the Blackridge primary school to its portfolio.


What’s extra special about this new building is that it is a modern, purpose-built Passivhaus standard nursery. Passivhaus buildings are specially designed to provide users with enhanced thermal comfort using virtually no energy for heating or cooling – this is the first nursery of its kind for the region and only the second non-domestic Passivhaus building in Scotland.


Following the Passivhaus concept and to keep carbon emissions low, the lighting was required to be low energy while providing optimum comfort for teaching staff and learners alike. Secondly, the client wanted to create a welcoming environment to facilitate a learning atmosphere.


A broad range of the Thorn Lighting family of luminaires was selected to light the complete building from the continuous suspended IQ Waves in the main nursery space, Omega Pro 2 in the offices and kitchen, Chalice in the toilets and corridors to R2L2 in the external car park.


Lighting can influence the effectiveness of the learning setting, and IQ Wave was the ideal choice. As the first point of contact for children and parents, the lobby should be warm, motivating, and inviting. The brief was to make them stand out from the rest of the nursery.


To achieve this, the team took a different direction and designed a suspended rectangular arrangement of the elegant Thorn Equaline, a flexible and modular system. The Equaline configuration delivers 1,760 lumens per metre in a bright white light (4000K). The effect is a stunning statement piece that emits a welcoming and stimulating light.

For more information on Thorn Lighting please visit the website:


A NEW £7.3million primary school planned for Taunton is set to become Somerset’s first net zero carbon school.

The 420-place school, which includes a 60-place nursery, will serve the Orchard Grove housing development in Comeytrowe.

It will be fossil fuel free and use air source heat pumps and excellent air tightness to keep the building warm when it opens in September 2023.

Cllr Clare Paul, County Hall’s cabinet member for education and public health, said: “I’m delighted we’re bringing forward another new school for children in Somerset and excited to see plans for this to be the county’s first carbon neutral school building.

“This fits squarely with the county council’s ambitious plans to reduce Somerset’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

“I’m pleased to see the project progressing to develop a Comeytrowe school fit to meet the demand from expected new housing in the area, and which we aim to open for 2023/24 school admissions.”

Somerset County Council has appointed Futures for Somerset to deliver the project, which has been designed by architects Stride Treglown to minimise environmental impact in line with the authority’s commitment to make Somerset carbon neutral by 2030.

The design is based on the ‘passivhaus’ internationally recognised, performance-based energy standard in construction.

Cllr David Hall, the council’s cabinet member for economic development and community infrastructure, said: “Somerset County Council is determined to lead the way when it comes to tackling the impacts of climate change in Somerset.

“Considering how to reduce emissions when developing new projects is at the forefront of our decision making and this new school is a good example of the Climate Emergency Strategy in action.”

Last November, Somerset’s five councils agreed to a plan for the county to go carbon neutral by 2030.

Responsible for delivering the new Orchard Grove community is a consortium of leading housebuilders – Taylor Wimpey and Vistry Group, which includes Bovis Homes and Linden Homes.

Vistry Group is working on the project as a joint venture with South West housing association, LiveWest.

The vision behind the 2,000-home development is to create a garden community with residents enjoying from shared amenities and abundant outdoor space.

Sue Scholfield, from Vistry Group and the Orchard Grove consortium, said: “Delivering new developments is about so much more than housing.

“The new school will provide a vital amenity at Orchard Grove.

“We anticipate it will be a source of pride and opportunity for this new community and future generations.”

Construction on the school is due to start in April 2022.


Mark Schlotel, Marketing Manager at Cistermiser and Keraflo, talks to School Building about the importance of managing water safety in schools and explains how sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make the biggest difference.


Providing safe stored water in schools

As the saying goes, good things do come in small packages and it’s the products that we don’t necessarily see on a day to day basis that make the biggest difference. Float valves are a good example. A small component that most of us would have no need to consider and yet the implications to water safety and efficiency are significant.

Controlling water levels in cold water storage tanks is essential but becomes particularly important in schools where there is a large number of users and variable demand – for example during school holidays, there are significant periods of non-use or far reduced usage.

Conventional Vs delayed action 

Conventional equilibrium valves can potentially create problems when water is drawn from the tank. The float-operated valve opens slightly, and a dribble of water refills the tank. This doesn’t happen quickly enough for the water entering the tank to mix forcibly with the existing tank water, which can lead to stagnation. Add this to low or no-usage through the summer months and the temperature of the water in the storage tank can rise to above 22°C which places it in the risk zone for proliferation of bacteria, such as legionella.

Delayed-action valves provide an excellent alternative and only activate when the water falls to a pre-set level in the tank, opening fully to achieve a fast refill at a velocity that will mix the water in the tank and prevent stagnation. Keraflo have developed the leading range of delayed-action mechanical float valves on the market and these proven devices are ruggedly built to last, providing unbeatable value in terms of cost-in-use over considerable periods of time.

St Andrew’s School retires old Aylesbury float valve after 24 years

A primary school in Uxbridge has retired its Aylesbury cold water storage tank valve after 24 years of service, so its successor can now take the strain. The original Aylesbury K-Type delayed-action mechanical float valve had been in constant daily use since the 1990s, meeting all the water needs of the school’s staff and 200+ children.

Spare parts were no longer readily available to fit a valve of that age, so manufacturers Keraflo recommended that the best solution was to upgrade the system by fitting the modern version of the Aylesbury K-Type valve.


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The school’s water tank valve was originally installed when the London Borough of Hillingdon carried out a project to upgrade all water tanks across the Borough’s school premises in 1994. Many of those Hillingdon schools have long since been refurbished or replaced, but the valve at St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School has been “going strong” and working every day to ensure the water demands at the site are met.

The school’s Site Manager, Gerard McGuire, told Keraflo that he had experienced very little trouble with the valve at all.  He said “It’s been going for 24 years, which is not bad. You can’t argue with that as it’s been working constantly over that time.”

A small leak caused by wear and tear could have led to possible flooding in the offices and school rooms sited adjacent to the water tank, so the decision was taken to install a brand new Aylesbury K-Type valve. A local plumber installed the new replacement valve quickly and easily. This was the most efficient and practical way to solve the problem and ensure the school’s daily life was not disrupted.

Durability & longevity

Neil Weston, Keraflo’s Technical Sales Manager, remembers the original London Borough of Hillingdon’s upgrade and refurbishment project. It was one of his first work assignments on joining Keraflo. “Whilst not unusual, it is still a pleasant surprise to visit a site and see a float valve of this age in such an excellent general condition,” says Neil. “The only component that had worn at St Andrew’s School has long been replaced by one of a different material that will not wear in the same way. We can be confident that our latest Aylesbury valve models will continue to deliver durability and longevity. In this day and age of a ‘disposable society’ it’s still good to see a British manufacturer building products to last the life-cycle of a building.”

For more information on choosing the correct valve for your school building, contact Keraflo on 0118 921 9920 for specification advice or visit the website.