“This new school is an incredible achievement in designing and building a new 21st century educational and sports facility from a standing start and all within two years; a real credit to all those involved and to the collaborative ‘will do’ approach taken by the designers and contractors alike. The pupils are in awe and this is just a different world to the one they have been used to and they’re excited about it, and they should be because they are lucky children.” Andy Prestoe, Principal, Sybil Andrews Academy
The Brief: After carrying out the Master Plan, we were asked to project manage on behalf of the client, the construction of a new secondary school at Moreton Hall in Bury St. Edmunds. Our brief was to follow through on implementing our design proposal and deliver the completed Sybil Andrews Academy in the Autumn Term of 2016. Construction would incorporate core facilities capable of initially supporting 900 students, with teaching accommodation for 600. The new school also had to have the ability to expand to accommodate 1400 pupils, plus a sixth form, by 2031.
The Aim: Aware from the start of construction, that the team would be working to a very challenging and tight schedule, the aim was to ensure that an extremely close working relationship was established between all stakeholders and the construction team. During the construction period, there were times when design amendments and alterations were being made alongside the construction works. This meant there was a need for total transparency and collaboration between the Barnes and Concertus teams both off and on-site.
From the off, there was also close collaboration with regular and ongoing communication being made with the Principal, Andy Prestoe and the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, to ensure that they could keep teachers, pupil and parents fully informed on construction progress.
The Scope: Sybil Andrews Academy was designed and constructed so that the building provides flexibly and can be adapted as the Academy grows, and in response to changes in the school curriculum. The core admin and other infrastructure areas support ease of movement and access as well as management of the school and the site. The opportunities have been maximised for community use outside the academic day, through consideration of access, service zoning and security needs. The building also incorporates good practice in relation to environmental sustainability with the inclusion of a Biomass boiler, photovoltaic panels, mechanical heat recovery and fully considered building orientation, resulting in an ‘A’ rating for energy performance. The external environment is inspiring and makes provision for formal, informal and habitat spaces along with sports pitches.
Designed around the ethos of a central heart space, the building looks to minimise the use of corridors by maximizing social and group spaces that can be used flexibly. The western elevation creates intrigue and interest through the use of slender windows, which provide glimpses into the school, whilst minimising the issues of overlooking neighbouring properties. Larger elements of curtain glazing are then used to provide views through the building and into the school site. The eastern elevation comprises large areas of glazing to reflect the way in which the heart building opens out into the site and provides a connection with the separate teaching blocks. Internally, the building contains large, flexible teaching space which is predominately based around the Learning Resource and Dining areas. An approach that is continued within Teaching Block 1 where class bases breakout into a central group teaching and social space, and the use of the auditorium staircase provides smaller presentation / tutoring opportunities.
Phase two of the scheme was the construction of the Sports Building, which is clearly identified as having a different usage on the site. Externally across the whole site, paved areas follow a form and pattern to delineate the spaces and guide the users and there is a strong relationship with the outdoor environment through the views from stairwells, curtain glazing (glass walls) and doorways.
The Result: Construction was completed mid-November and the children moved into the new school on Monday 5 December 2016. Divided into three key buildings; Heart Building, Teaching Block 1 and the Sports Building, the academy provides a stimulating educational environment. The location of the Heart building has been carefully considered to provide a strong visual feature to the Academy and its wider environment. It has been positioned along the western boundary to act as an acoustic break and light shield between the school site and the neighbouring residential development, whilst providing a strong visual presence to people entering Moreton Hall via the new Eastern Relief Road. The entrance is strongly emphasised through the continuation of structural framing beyond the building line and this draws people into the building whilst blurring the distinction between internal and external space. Opportunities have been maximised for community use outside the academic day, through consideration of access, service zoning and security needs.
“We are delighted that Sybil Andrews Academy has opened. It is the physical realisation of an aspiration we had for a new kind of secondary school in Bury. “Focused on strong values, challenge and support, it aspires to provide outstanding learning in an excellent environment. “The staff at the school have been excellent, Suffolk County Council have been highly supportive and the community deeply engaged. I would like to thank them all. ”Howard Lay, Chief Executive of Samuel Ward Academy Trust