Monk’s Walk School

A new two form teaching and 6th form block to replace the existing redundant building within a 1950’s built secondary school campus. For this scheme we exploited the benefits of an all-modular solution with a high proportion of off-site construction, which resulted in a relatively short period on site with minimal disruption to the running of the school.

Date

2021

Client

Education & Skills Funding Agency / Spatial Initiative

Value

£5m

We were architects from inception to completion on this project for a replacement of a redundant teaching block forming part of a 1950’s Secondary School in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. The project was delivered as part of the national Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) and funded by the Department for Education.

The new building is a two-storey stand-alone teaching block, and the accommodation includes general classrooms and a new 6th form centre on the ground floor together with IT and art departments on the first. The building is a simple rectangular shape with double banked accommodation to maximise efficiency.

The school is situated on the edge of a designated green belt area and the new block was built on the site of an existing MUGA to enable the existing classroom accommodation to be retained for the duration of construction. This meant that the existing green area remained untouched, and the site of the redundant block used for new tennis courts once it was demolished.

Whilst the site is relatively spacious, the siting meant that the access arrangements involved a degree of complexity terms of layout, with a temporary access road with access routes across it for means of escape being set up.

The new building employed modular construction to reduce the period on site. Once the ground was prepared and footings laid, the modules were brought to site and craned into place within a very short period, ensuring that the large majority of the build period was spent on the relatively unobtrusive internal fit-out. This minimized disruption to the school in general and the education of the pupils in particular.

Construction involved a very high degree of standardization throughout to reap the full benefits of the chosen method of construction and to ensure that the DfE standard brief was adhered to. The external cladding was carried out on site whilst the interior was being fitted out and used a lightweight brick slip system at ground floor level with render above. Here, blue glazed bricks and grey render were chosen to pick up on the school colours.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

Producing an efficient plan solution based on a double banked corridor within the constraints of the modular system. This involved maintaining a regularity of module sizes whilst ensuring that the need to stack the modules did not disrupt the plan. At the same time the solution had to result in a building with attractive elevations that fitted into the site as a whole.

The Solution

We developed a very efficient plan in a simple rectangular form that sits alongside the existing building to be demolished. The building has two banks of classrooms with a large sixth form space at one end. This enabled a regular grid to be used and uncluttered external elevations with regular fenestration to be developed.

The Outcome

After an intense period of consultation with both the school and Local Authority we have developed an efficient and affordable design solution which gained planning consent. The building was completed on site over the course of a single school year, demonstrating the benefits of the specified off-site technology.

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