Exemplar Schools for the Future

Client: Department for Education and Skills

Sector: Education

Cost: £3m

Status: Concept

The Department for Education and Skills selected eleven architect-led teams of consultants to provide exemplar designs for schools; five teams concentrated on primary schools, five on secondary schools, and one team on a school with an intake of pupils from ages 5-18. The brief specifically asked the teams to address the Government’s education agenda, looking at community access, flexibility and adaptability, sustainability, innovation, off-site construction, the changing curriculum and the delivery of ICT, as well as access and inclusion.

Marks Barfield’s specific brief was for a low impact primary school for green belt rural and suburban settings. The resulting design is an environmentally sustainable, single-storey timber framed and clad kit of parts. Its off-site modular construction significantly reduces construction time and minimises site disruption. The components can be assembled in a variety of layouts so that every school can be distinct – uniquely responding to each site, client and brief.

The modular design has been developed to optimise environmental conditions, with flexibility in classroom arrangement and layouts. The basic teaching building block consists of a structurally efficient classroom and support spaces planned on either side of a generous diagonal circulation spine. The teaching modules can be arranged in a variety of clusters, with the larger elements of the hall and other central resources, together comprise a whole school that can be configured and tailored to each site.Every classroom has a sheltered outdoor teaching area. The building is designed for health and comfort and is developed on the premise of inclusive and accessible design. A generous hall, at the heart of the school, is a welcoming space which the school can customise to provide a variety of facilities for pupils, parents and community. Clusters of teaching modules, together with the hall and central resources, comprise the whole school.

The design offers a wide range of classroom sizes and layouts, from completely cellular through semi-open plan to fully open plan. The system allows for differences in teaching methods, requirements and pupil numbers.

The design is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. It has passive heating/cooling and ventilation systems and reduces the impact of emissions, effluent and waste. It is built from low impact materials that are durable and carefully selected to provide thermal mass, fire resistance, light reflectance and acoustic reduction. The design achieved a BREEAM rating of Excellent and an Acoustic Rating of Excellent.