Penoyre & Prasad completes new school in historic market town
The £28.9m new Minster School provides facilities for 1,600 children in Southwell. Strong school leadership with a clear vision, an energetic and collaborative design team, and an effective and efficient construction team has delivered a genuine community resource and a successful, exciting educational environment for the 21st century.
The school was previously split between two sites, and a large flexible space for the school to gather was essential, to re-establish it’s identity. A central heartspace was developed to form the core of the building. This two-storey, 8m wide street is the focus of the school’s energies and used for dining, circulation, teaching and gathering. A key part of the brief was to develop
a variety of adaptable spaces, accessible facilities for the wider community and to display the Humanities and Music specialist status.
The heartspace, lined with lockers whose graphics reflect the school’s specialisms, provides the vital social spaces needed for a school with a dispersed rural population of students and staff. A drama studio and assembly hall are located directly off the heartspace, opposite an open learning area, all of which can be variously combined using moveable walls. All the flexible spaces provide much needed high quality resources for the community. Longer term adaptability was planned for through a system of carefully located stairs, curriculum areas, and demountable partitions within a
robust concrete frame.
Building and landscape are intimately intertwined, with generous courtyards and amphitheatre that provide play space, external dining and informal teaching areas. Transparency and openness is emphasised throughout, maximising views both within the building and out into the landscape, allowing for informal supervision and awareness. The building also promotes an understanding of environmental issues, with natural ventilation and
daylighting, sustainable and recycled materials, rainwater harvesting, and an electronic readout monitor at the entrance.