Highfield Humanities College
Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley.
5 August 2010
Planning reference: 10/0855
Overall design quality rating: very good
This is a vibrant proposal that offers an ambitious model for delivering education at Highfield Humanities College. The enthusiasm and commitment shown so far for making this an exemplar school should be maintained through subsequent design work to realise its potential as an uplifting, low energy environment for teaching and learning.
- The school has a strong identity which responds well to the character of Blackpool and is set to be an important asset for all within the community. A commitment to the detailed design and the quality of the materials and detailing will be required to achieve this.
- The internal floor layouts offer a variety of well proportioned rooms and a flexible environment for teaching and learning. It is important that the adjacencies between rooms are scrutinised so that the quality of the learning spaces is not impaired. The generic learning spaces at first and second floor level that adjoin the void to the sports hall, for example, should be rigorously tested for light and acoustics. Noise from the dining and social areas should not impair the quality of the learning environments in the inspiration hubs above. There is a clear synergy between the rooms at ground floor level to the south of the school and the outdoor spaces. The dining and social space outside could be more generous in size and benefit from a clearer transition from the internal space.
- The ground floor layout of the school is logical and provides large transparent and flexible spaces that can be adapted over time, as the curriculum and teaching methods change. The circulation areas at first floor level are clearly defined. Pupil movement numbers should be fully tested to avoid impeded pedestrian flows at potential pinch-points, where corners of rooms coalesce for example.
- The function of the space to the front of the school is clearly defined and could be an asset for pupils and the wider community. It is important that the areas of hardstanding to the rear of the school are carefully detailed and constructed to ensure that they are a valuable and integral part of the learning environment. Any conflict between the dining space and the outdoor play area (eg from footballs) needs to be managed.
- The simplicity of the form and mass of the building is welcome and the organisation of the windows help to maintain a flexible internal layout. We note that a canopy has been added to mark the front entrance to the school. A solution that is more integral to the elevations and that makes the entrance visible from a distance should be found.