Diverse new teaching complex fulfils vision of enhanced education and social inclusion
Wood View Learning Community is a ground-breaking, single campus sustainably designed to fulfil the vision of enhanced education, social inclusion and a continuous educational environment. The campus brings together Whitleigh Community Primary School, Woodlands Special School and Sir John Hunt Community Sports College, Wise Owls Nursery, Whitleigh Children's Centre and Centre for Young Parents. The new facilities cater for children from nursery age to school-leavers and include a special needs school and a centre dedicated to supporting parents themselves still in school.
Financial close was reached in January 2007, and construction completed in September 2008, on programme and within the fixed price budget. A two-year design and development process featured extensive consultation: interactive workshops; pupil/teacher movements and timetables tracked; an architect allocated to each of the five schools; and coordinated discussion and prioritisation of needs.
Those needs were as complicated and diverse as a physically disabled child requiring five pieces of specialised equipment to move around the school and a vulnerable first-time mother needing support and parenting guidance while continuing her own education.
HLM-4D, our environmental software package, allowed us to address sustainability issues from concept stage. The buildings maximise daylight; allow natural ventilation through passive stack effect techniques and low-energy design; the building mass acts as heat sink for warmth in winter and cooling in summer; and intelligent under-floor heating and PIR lighting respond to motion.
A spiral design allowed us to: amalgamate the schools into one architectural form following existing hilltop contours with limited changes in level; create a sheltered microclimate offering energy-efficiency benefits; create a central hub so shared resources would bring all pupils together; and deliver increased social understanding and educational pride. This not only addressed the environmental challenge, but helped us engineer ‘controlled collisions’: bringing children of all ages and from every school into daily contact in a conscious bid to promote inclusiveness. The circulation routes mean that pupils pass through communal areas and teaching zones they might not otherwise encounter. Every pupil, between 3 and 16 years old and including those who might need tube-feeding, dines in the forum - at the heart of campus. This design encourages communication, mentoring and respect amongst the pupils as they understand their differing needs; precisely the social innovation our client sought.