Geographically, the school is divided into two campuses. The site for the new assembly hall was strategically located in the middle of the thoroughfare that links the two campuses together. The brief was to create a building capable of accommodating an expanding student population, while respecting the strict cost limit. The layout was therefore designed for flexibility so that the hall, sixth form area and classrooms could be added or removed in accordance with budget constraints. These ‘floating’ spaces are connected and served via a ‘street’ and service cores of a more permanent nature. The orientation of the building further enhances the key route from north to south with spaces directly located adjacent to facilities. The building mass is sensitive to the need to reduce visual and noise impact on the residential area to the west.
The elevational treatment takes its precedent from existing buildings within the campus, principally facing brick with punched windows and a parapet. The hall is clad in metal to bring lightness to an otherwise large building. An angled and fully glazed façade will be a feature of the new sixth form area following the existing footpath to increase its visibility, thus encouraging cross learning and interaction among the students.
Stephen Gray, Head of School, said “Our working relationship with Stephen George was a wholly positive one. From the outset, we felt that we were dealing with a company who were prepared to listen to our vision of what we wanted the building to be and come back with imaginative practical solutions to the design issues that we had raised. There was a fully professional dialogue throughout the process and as we saw the project progress from drawings to reality, we knew that we had made the right decisions. The end result has been a building that not only looks stunning and engenders the ‘wow factor’ in visitors and users, but has demonstrated that it is fit for purpose and passes the test of being a practical and highly flexible space to work in. Value for money is not necessarily about finding the cheapest solution. We know that we have commissioned a very high quality building at a fair price and we are confident that we have spent our money wisely. Getting the design right at the early stages was a critical part of the project and we are grateful to Stephen George for the highly professional way that they approached the brief”.