The design of the new college sought to obviate problems typical of traditional school buildings – separate teaching blocks, narrow, dark corridors, secret stairwells, inflexible teaching spaces, hidden toilets, poor ventilation etc. The new building is horseshoe shaped and designed on three floors around a central atrium. The fourth side of the atrium is the retained sports hall. A large main entrance foyer leads into the atrium, a three storey space covered with an inflated ETFE roof. The atrium is used for whole school assemblies, performance and social events as well as break time socialising without exposure to the elements.
The facilities arranged around the atrium at ground floor level are those with the most intensive uses, e.g. theatre/dance studio, catering, vocational spaces, sports facilities and the College’s central administration suite. Coloured brick 'zones' not only create a vibrant, youthful interior, but also differentiate key areas of the school and help pupils and visitors navigate themselves around the building easily.
The accommodation on the upper two floors provides the balance of teaching and learning areas. These spaces are light and airy with high ceilings and large external windows, allowing natural daylight deep into the building. The design includes key features to deter bullying and anti-social behaviour, including open plan toilets and the use of extensive double glazed, acoustic screens between learning spaces and adjacent circulation galleries (forming part of the atrium). This also creates an interior with a sense of openness and a connection with the rest of the school.The building design has already helped to change attitudes and promote respect, improve behaviour and attendance, raise attainment levels and ambitions, and is increasingly seen as the school of choice across a more diverse range of the local population, reversing a trend of the recent past.