Cowes Enterprise College

A perfect synthesis was created between the demands of the brief and the opportunities of the site. Concept, form and structure marry well, providing an innovative educational solution with aesthetic benefits and a cost-effective, buildable solution.




Isle of Wight Council



Set on a hilltop with panoramic views across the Isle of Wight and out to sea, the site for the new Cowes Enterprise College is stunning. Our design concept involved a “hilltop village” with clusters of volumes and roof forms echoing those of a medieval settlement. While analysing the potential of the brief, it became apparent that this initial concept was ideally suited to the clustering of educational spaces envisaged within a series of departments based around internal and external courtyards.

A perfect synthesis was then created between the demands of the brief and the opportunities of the site. The key spaces are planned around ‘inspiration zones’ that are accessed from the centrally placed entrance hall. The inspiration zone connects to a covered courtyard and dining area in one direction, whilst, in the other, a moving wall allows complete connection to the games hall for performance and sport.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

This project entailed linking two campuses within one building: the “Gateway Village” for 11-14 year olds and a “Learning Centre” for 14-19 year olds. In addition, it was important that the wider community benefit from the physical presence of the school in the neighbourhood.

The Solution

Inspired by the notion of the ‘hill-top village’ with its clear identity, profile and boundary, our design incorporates a series of internal and external courtyards that will create a number of destinations, gathering places, teaching spaces and points of interest within the school.

The Outcome

We developed a learning environment significantly improved from what was originally envisaged, and links from education to enterprise mean that the learning resource centre will be able to support wider community use. In addition, our innovative construction solutions offered significant construction advantages.

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