Pioneers in their field

Monday 18 Apr 2011

WAN winners pave the way for new typologies in education facility design

Following last year’s pure white winners Kuwait University College of Education and LJMU Art & Design Academy in Liverpool UK, the 2011 title-holders for the WAN AWARDS Education Sector mark a distinct contrast in terms of style and intention.

Heading the ‘Unbuilt' category is Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects’ Tidemill Primary School in London, UK, whilst Fitzroy High School in Melbourne, Australia by McBride Charles Ryan was crowned leader of the ‘Completed' category.

As always the level of entries was extraordinarily high, as some of the world’s strongest practices both large and small competed to win the title, however these two projects were noted as above and beyond by our pair of jury panels including Roger Hawkins, Director at HawkinsBrown, Ty Goddard, Director of the British Council for School Environments, Alan Ford, Founder of Alan Ford Architects, Trung Le from Cannon Design, Karim Benkirane, Principal at Woods Bagot and Mairi Johnson, Strategic Director of Design at Partnerships for Schools.

From the moment the details of Tidemill Primary School hit the table, its innovative angle in community development drew expressions of interest from the judges, with Sarah Williams, Director at Aedas considering: “'Sharing their facilities with the wider community', now that is quite interesting; that is what we should be doing.”

A longer analysis of the project found few faults, with the all-inclusive design showered with praise at almost every turn. Roger Hawkins was particularly impressed by the sheer variety of typologies covered in the plans, exclaiming: “The residential bit’s quite interesting – a mixture of triplex and duplex units in 5 stories.

“The other great aspects to the scheme include its inter-connected hall and assembly spaces, rooftop ball court, changing facilities, design and technology music rooms, and independent access to school kitchen facilities making it available for private hire by the community, district library, resource centre for start-up businesses, artists’ studios... It’s brilliant!”

On the other side of the world, the unique face of Fitzroy High School was admired for its ‘traditional approach’ in an inventive exterior, a move noted by Chris Harding, Head of Education at BDP as ‘a good thing in terms of moving the typology forward’. There was fierce competition in the ‘Completed’ category, with Kroon Hall at Yale University (Hopkins Architects) and the Michael Faraday Community School in London (Alsop Sparch) also strong contenders, however the colour coded interiors, flexible and interactive use of space, and ‘brilliantly thoughtful’ overall design pushed McBride Charles Ryan to the top of the table.

Once again, the winners of the WAN AWARDS have broken new ground in the field of education, responding not only to the needs of immediate users but also to those of the communities in which they are located. This forward-thinking approach proved the deciding factor for one of our panel, with Sarah Williams explaining: “We felt that PTEa’s scheme for Tidemill Primary school in London was the clear winner combining many different briefing elements that roots the scheme in its community and shows that a new typology of school is possible.”

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