Case Study


Historically modern chapel well insulated

When St Alban’s College in Lynnwood, Pretoria, was looking to build its new chapel, it turned to specialist contractors who were able to understand the authenticity of the venue, maintaining the historical value of the buildings while providing a functional, high-performance and aesthetically pleasing audio and visual solution.

Chapel music

Founded in 1963, this prestigious school has a rich history, steeped not only in academia but also music, with the St Alban’s College chapel choir attending their first World Choir Games in 2008. Keeping this in mind, the planning and building of the new chapel onto what was historically used as a cowshed was undertaken.

This part of the St Alban’s chapel had monument certification and being protected by the National Monuments Act, parts of it could not be disturbed – challenging all involved as the completed facility had to be well insulated and adhere to modern building standards


Thanks to GPL Projects and its managing director, Eric Lange, the Rigifoam product line proved to be the perfect insulation choice during this challenging project. The refurbishment and enclosure of an additional five unused spaces to the existing building – the Playtrium, or place of play, meeting and gathering, as it was known – was the main component and also the biggest challenge. The space to be enclosed was tapered, being wide in the rear and closing towards the front.

With an especially flat slope due to space limitations below the existing building’s roof and tops of the old windows facing into the Playtrium, castellated lightweight beams were installed on columns over the existing basement, which required a further weight reduction. As the space would ultimately be used as a place of gathering, insulation was of utmost importance.

Tailormade boards

Saving weight and space below the roof and to keep ambient temperatures as low as possible, meant that a between-purlin Lambdaboard installation had to be used. This installation was used as the rear of each member received a lip on which the board would rest and then dropped in from the top, as the members formed part of the structural frame keeping the columns in place during construction.

Consequently, the Lambdaboard insulation had to be installed before the roof sheeting, with each board chamfered and tailormade to its location within the structural frame.

To adhere to the required thermal or R-values, the installation of 80mm Lambdaboard was specified. This, in turn, required the modification of the structural frame to enable the installation of the Lambdaboard by way of installing offset aluminium T-sections and fixing them to the underside of the purlins, before inserting the Lambdaboard longitudinally.

The boards then had to be shortened to take into consideration the installation of the ventilation and extraction systems after completion.

Clad to completion

Electrical and sound equipment lines were then laid in very tight spacing between the boards and the roof sheeting. The structural steel frame was clad with 12mm MDF super wood over steel trusses for aesthetic purposes and then clad to edge the Lambdaboard with Vinyl faux wood.

All wall sections which were externally clad with Chromate sheeting also had to be insulated and 40mm Lambdaboard was installed to the structural frame before being clad and painted. The board and aluminium T-sections were then primed and painted, after all the services and aesthetic enhancements were installed, completing the all-round appearance.

Those who sat at the first dedication, after completion of the original chapel (the old cowshed), shared a deeply emotional and historic event. With the new chapel in full operation, the faculty and students can embrace this new chapter of their journey whilst reflecting on the beauty of the old.


Project: Tom Hamilton Wellness Centre – St Albans College Pretoria

Architect: Boogertman & Partners – Pretoria
Lambdaboard – over purlin application

Details: With the unique design of this project, the ceiling insulation the roof design incorporated a single-plane design that ran through the wellness centre and continued outside to the covered pavilion for the swimming pool complex, Lambdaboard was the perfect choice to allow for brilliant thermal performance for the interior space and excellent finish for the ceiling

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