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Public buildings programmes

CABE enabling has positively influenced several major programmes of public buildings through work with government departments and funders and local clients and project teams.

Bristol Brunel Academy

Bristol Brunel Academy. Photo by Michele Turriani.


In 2001, CABE was asked by the Department of Education (then the Department for Education and Skills), and later Partnerships for Schools, to provide direct briefing, design and procurement advice to recipients of capital funding. These clients were local authorities delivering buildings under the Schools PFI or Building Schools for the Future programmes, such as Brunel Academy in Bristol.

Over nine years, this work included giving direct advice to 135 authorities, training teachers and client design advisors, and collating best practice. It led to the creation of client guides for both the primary school and secondary school sectors.

CABE also conducted important research on completed PFI and Academy projects, Assessing secondary school design. This reinforced CABE’s knowledge and credibility on school design and its powerful evidence led to the establishment of the CABE Schools Design Panel and changes to Government policy.

Read more about CABE’s work with schools.

Hoyle Early Years Centre, Bury

Hoyle Early Years Centre, Bury. Photo by Martine Hamilton Knight.

Nurseries and early years facilities

CABE worked with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to develop their Neighbourhood Nurseries competition in 2002. This resulted in two award-winning projects being built in Hoyle, Bury and Sheffield.

From 2004 to 2008, CABE provided support to local authorities building projects under both the Surestart and children’s centres programme, for the Department of Children, Schools and Families: advice for 50 local authorities on the design and delivery of over 300 buildings. We also developed and conducted a post occupancy evaluation (POE) of 110 completed Surestart buildings – the largest single POE in the public sector at that time. The published report and its recommendations helped to improve procurement and standards in the later stages of the programme. Our project experience and knowledge was captured within a series of client guides - Building for Surestart (for DfES) and Every building matters.

Kaleidoscope, children's and young people's centre, Lewisham

Kaleidoscope, children's and young people's centre, Lewisham. Photo by Nick Kane.

Health buildings

As part of our long-standing relationship with the Department of Health (DH), we provided client advice to 40 acute, community and mental health trusts on 100 capital projects between 2001 and 2010. This included working with clients like Lewisham Primary Care Trust helping them run a design competition to develop an award-winning facility. The Kaleidoscope building was completed in 2007. 
CABE was a key partner in establishing the NHS design review panel for DH investment programmes over £15m. CABE staff were directly involved reviewing over 50 schemes and, from 2006 onwards, providing a chair for the panels. We also helped support the internal DH technical team with their design champion network and conducted policy research on sustainable health estates.

Between 2001 and 2010, CABE ran a series of campaigns on hospitals and the wider NHS, including Healthy hospitals and Health week. We investigated the quality of completed buildings under the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) programme and wrote technical guidance for DH – Primary and community care Health Building Note 11-01: Facilities for primary and community care services, Supplement A.

Read more about CABE’s work with health.

Luton Carnival Arts Centre, Luton

Luton Carnival Arts Centre, Luton. Photo by Morley von Sternberg.

Cultural and community buildings

CABE helped the Arts Council England with their capital grant programmes from 2001 to 2008, providing client assistance to over 100 grant recipients and their projects, including the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and the Turner Centre in Margate. Lessons learned from these programmes were recorded in the Client guide for arts capital programme projects. The later Building Excellence in the Arts provides a handbook for those in the arts embarking on capital projects.

In 2002, CABE was asked by the Department for Culture Media and Sport to provide client training on their PFI library building programme. This was followed up with direct help to clients on projects like Newcastle City Library.

CABE worked with the BIG lottery fund and Department for Education from 2009 to 2010 to assist youth clients, charities and local authorities with the development of their proposals for new youth centres under the Myplace programme.

Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Manchester Civil Justice Centre. Photo by David Millington Photography Ltd.

Courts and civic buildings

The Ministry of Justice (then the Lord Chancellor’s Department / Department of Constitutional Affairs) asked CABE to help them with their Crown and Magistrate Court building programme from 2002 to 2005. CABE provided design and procurement advice to 12 areas of their PFI programmes. This included projects like Manchester Civil Justice Centre, and provided support to the Ministry on setting up their internal design panel and design guidance.

In 2002, CABE was a key partner in running a national design competition to reinvent the town hall: Designs on Democracy. This led to the publication by the Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) of Reinventing the town hall: a handbook.

Emergency services buildings

CABE advised the Home Office on the creation of their own enabling and design review panels and their design champion network, and supported the ministry on the development of a specific departmental design policy during the period 2002-08. We gave direct help to constabularies completing building projects, such as the Dorset Emergency Services Partnership Initiative, which was the first joint emergency services building under PFI. We also delivered training to senior police staff on procurement and design and developing guidance on police station design. CABE worked with the CLG in 2007 to research and write a design guide on fire stations.

Waste facilities

DEFRA asked CABE act as a partner in providing technical input and advice about waste facilities. This led to the joint publication Designing Waste Facilities: a key guide to modern design in waste. This has been widely disseminated to local authorities and private sector providers.