Sybil Andrews – Masterplan

“We demonstrated our ability to work on a quick turnaround with a large number of stakeholders, understanding their varying requirements whilst ensuring that the design provides a high quality educational project.” – Charles Coulson, Assistant Head of Architectural Design, Concertus

The Brief: We were asked to produce a Master Plan for the design and construction of a new secondary school at Moreton Hall in Bury St. Edmunds. Our brief was to design a school that would incorporate core facilities capable of supporting 900 students, with teaching accommodation for 600. The Master Plan also had to demonstrate the ability of the site to expand to accommodate 1400 pupils, plus a sixth form, by 2031.

Why did they choose us?

  • We have a high degree of expertise and experience in the Education Sector
  • We have recent knowledge gained through acting as client advisors on two new EFA Academies in Suffolk, Felixstowe and Ipswich. This experience also provided us with an understanding of how academies are looking to deliver education and set out their buildings.
  • We had recently completed phase 2 of 3 of a new high school at Pakefield, Lowestoft.
  • We had a great local knowledge gained from designing and constructing two Primary Schools within the Moreton Hall Area.
  • We demonstrated our ability to work with a large number of stakeholders, understand their varying requirement whilst ensuring that the design provides a high quality educational project.
  • We had the ability and capacity to produce a fully co-ordinated design within a short time period.
  • We had the vision to consider the scheme holistically, in context for accommodating phase 1 and then the requirements for the wider Master Plan as the school and site develops. Our designers were able to include flexibility within the design.
  • We possessed the ability to liaise and communicate with adjacent developers to ensure coherent development for local area.

What did we do differently?

  • We reacted and delivered on a quick turnaround
  • We engaged with the end user regarding layout and design at an early stage
  • We considered the needs of the client, Academy and the pupils; all of which had separate requirements and areas of importance.
  • The fully coordinated design was developed in-house
  • The 3D modelling included structures and services
  • We produced high quality visuals and a fly through
  • Through the design we looked to remove / minimize risks for: site safety and security, pupil protection, vehicle and pupil separation and bullying.
  • We were able to provide a design which allows for shared usage by the community and the school, whilst maintaining secure separation.

The Result: The finished Master Plan comprised buildings that were designed to be adaptable and flexible. Specialist classrooms, practical areas and sports facilities were incorporated in accordance with BB98 & BB103 guidance. The buildings can also be adapted as the school grows and in response to changes in the school curriculum. The core admin and other infrastructure areas are designed to support ease of movement and access as well as management of the school and the site.

In addition, the design of the school maximises opportunities for community use outside the school day, through consideration of access, service zoning and security needs. It also incorporates good practice in relation to environmental sustainability. The external environment is inspiring and makes provision for formal, informal and habitat spaces along with sports pitches. Appropriate levels of parking are included within the Master Plan.

The design and location of the heart building has been carefully considered to provide a strong visual feature to the school and 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.

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. Externally the main heart building is designed to express its structural frame with the structural columns situated on the outside of the external walls. This, combined with the lower roof line to the academic hall, positioned within the centre of the building, breaks up the elevation and the overall mass of the building. The western elevation has been designed to create intrigue and interest in the school.

Through the use of slender windows, glimpses are provided 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 is designed with 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 has been designed to create a large, flexible teaching space which is predominately based around the Learning Resource and Dining areas.

Teaching Blocks 1-3 have been designed with the same principles of creating a central heart / group space with teaching accommodation arranged along the southern elevations to maximise natural day lighting. Services and group spaces are positioned along the southern elevation. Teaching Block 4 has been designed so that the classrooms are positioned along the northern elevation to enable the art classrooms to benefit from north light, whilst creating a courtyard space for external teaching and forming an edge to the proposed development line.

The strong vertical lines created by the structure of the heart building and the positioning of the buildings on the site have been continued into the Landscape design. This theme is common to all the buildings, where bands of colour are proposed across the glazed sections, whilst instances of coloured panels are stretched along the remainder of the elevations.

Designed around the same architectural principles, the Sports Building is clearly identified as having a different usage on the site. The entrances for the public and pupils are highlighted within the elevations through the use of strong coloured rain screen panels, whilst the sports hall provides a softening to the site through the proposed use of timber cladding.

The use of rain screen cladding to the majority of the elevations has been proposed due to its durability and low maintenance, windows are proposed as thermally broken aluminium frames and the roofs are proposed to be low pitch single ply membrane or three-layer felt, concealed behind parapets.

Key sustainable elements in the design include:

  • Biomass Boiler proposed as main heating source
  • PV arrays to be provided on the roofs of the teaching blocks and sports building
  • A site designed to ensure that sustainable drainage scheme is possible, together with a large degree of permeable paving areas with attenuation ponds and swales
  • Thermally efficient building with low u-values which exceed requirements of building regulations

The scheme is currently under construction and the school has been named the Sybil Andrews Academy. It will be run by the Samuel Ward Academy Trust.