Sobell School is situated in Cynon Valley, Aberdare and has been described as a ‘Super School’. The £50 million redevelopment includes a 1,600-pupil secondary school and community leisure complex.

There was a determination on this job to use BIM to maximise the benefits of modern digital facilities with a high degree of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA)

Blue Thorn’s Approach

Blue Thorn developed all components for the school in 3D including all of the pattress and electrical back box details. This allowed Laing O Rourke(LOR) to implements their ‘Smartwall’ system where most of the internal walls were prefabricated offsite, loaded with the fixtures and fittings that needed to be present on them, and delivered as one block to site to be moved in to place.

This building utilised modulisation to an extremely large degree. Blue Thorn initially coordinated the entire building in 3D allowing for modularisation as we went. Once the design was approved we were then able to model the exact details of the modules and produce drawings that were sent directly to the LOR’s prefabrication centre.


The building was built within tight timescales and the utilisation of prolific prefabrication throughout the job allowed a safer, quicker and ultimately more economical construction. The ongoing building management benefits from the legacy of fully structured data combined with an accurate graphical model showing exactly what’s installed.

The final building is a centre piece for the Aberdare community