Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
John Roan School in Greenwich, England by John McAslan + Partners
June 3rd, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: John McAslan + Partners
The John Roan School is an existing 1,400-pupil secondary school adjacent to Greenwich Park. John McAslan + Partners was appointed in 2010 to remodel both the existing Grade II listed building and to provide 8,000 sqm of new school and community accommodation across the split-site campus.
The project now offers significantly improved school accommodation as well as the much needed restoration of the existing grade II listed building which was in a poor condition and state of repair, ensuring that the existing building and new building can be enjoyed and appreciated by the local community.
The project’s objectives were to create –
The Westcombe Park building is a 7,600 sqm new build school, with a range of flexible, transformational learning environments for the middle school years 9, 10 and 11. The building is arranged over three storeys.
A large, double-height entrance area connects the Main Education Block and Sports Block, a sports and amenity building which can be operated independently as a community facility. The entrance foyer is conceived as a dramatic ‘hub’, an impressive, flexible space featuring two parallel flights of stairs incorporating generous stepped seating for informal gatherings, break-out and performance.
The overall scheme now provides classrooms, a central dining space at the heart of the school, design and technology labs, music and drama studios, open plan ICT break out areas, staff bases, a sports hall, changing facilities, an activities studio and DSP and SEN facilities, an open learning resource centre, staff and office accommodation and a winter garden.
To help articulate the massing of the building, two bricks, differing in colour and texture, are used to create a facade with a rich overlay of diagonal brick patterning, adding detail and craftsmanship.
The building was developed with sustainable engineering as its core – air tubes provide passive heating and cooling through thermal mass transfer with the ground, offsetting` mechanical cooling and heating energy. Solar hot water collectors provide baseload for hot water heating to the sports hall block, with a PV array on the Roof of Westcombe Park generating clean electricity
Public Consultation and Engagement
General outreach to the community and stakeholders was achieved through two public exhibitions over three sessions, a project website and direct community and stakeholder contact. The feedback from these engagement and communications processes provided vital ‘steer’ in the evolution of the final design.
Thorough consultation with the John Roan School was vital in the development of the proposals and consultation ensured that all members of staff and students were able to have their say whilst maintaining efficient lines of communication. The requirements were discussed at fortnightly school meetings with their designated BSF Champion and Head Teacher in addition to sessions involving students and the wider staff community. Drawings and models were regularly exhibited to highlight the evolution of the design and feedback from the students was added to a ‘cool wall’ identifying what was ‘cool’ and what they found ’uncool’. The Design Team worked closely with the school to ascertain how they work, and to identify what the scheme needed to provide and the quality of learning environment envisaged. Similarly, student comments were pivotal in developing the landscape scheme as an active learning environment.
Regular consultation meant that any potentially negative impacts of the proposal were reconsidered to ensure the development of a new school facility which benefits both the direct users of the school and the wider local community.
A Civic Amenity
A new welcoming entrance Piazza has been created at the school entrance presenting a civic character to the school arrival point. The paving flows through the reception area and beyond into the school grounds to the south, giving visual continuity, enhancing the integration of the building and landscape.
The investment in the landscape is focussed immediately to the north and south of the new building, creating usable thresholds/outdoor classrooms and social spaces. These learning spaces are designed to support the children’s emotional well-being, stimulating their senses and challenging their motor skills.
The landscape scheme provides external learning environments in addition to play and congregation areas. The landscape proposals were intended to be a ‘light touch’ working with and enhancing the existing designated areas on the two sites and introducing new areas of soft and hard landscaping where required.
Best practice used in design and construction
A strategy was developed to achieve higher attainment by pupils, introducing the following efficiencies:
Reconfiguring accommodation has improved learning and teaching experience by minimising the movement of students between sites, creating a greater sense of community and belonging reduction in student movement between lessons will also have the added benefit of controlling noise disturbance for residents living in close proximity to the sites.
Cost, capital, revenue, maintenance, methods of funding and grants received
John Roan School, with a construction value of £28.95m, is one of five projects undertaken by the London Borough of Greenwich (LBG) as part of the first wave of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
The project was funded with capital funding, unlike many of the other BSF schools at the time which were PFI funded. Although the BSF programme ended in 2010, funding for the project had already been secured in 2006. Additional funding was provided by the John Roan Foundation (which owns the Maze Hill building) which paid for some additional refurbishment works to the existing building not covered by the BSF budget.
RIBA awards programme: Sustainability Statement 2015
The RIBA is committed to meeting the challenge of climate change and raising the understanding of sustainability within the profession. This document is to provide where possible quantitative and qualitative data on the sustainability credentials of buildings submitted for awards. There may be buildings where it is not possible to produce quantifiable data either because of their size, or because they do not provide climatic enclosure, in which case only the written statement needs to be included.
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