Blyth Community College

Northumberland

Blyth Community College

Built to replace two high schools, the design of Blyth Community College reflects the school's teaching philosophies of informality, integration and transparency. Designed by Waring and Netts.

Designed for 1450 pupils, it serves a town of 35,000 people which has suffered over the past decade from the collapse of its coal mining and ship building industries. The project therefore has a regeneration role beyond that of a secondary school, and offers facilities to the whole community. Its layout and content reflect this, and it offers a programme which focuses on the performing arts as an instrument for the restoration of community confidence. After school hours the building is used for lifelong learning classes with around 900 students enrolled in the college's second year of operation.

It provides state of the art IT facilities, reflecting the increased use of technology within the curriculum, a childcare facility, an open learning centre incorporating the local branch library, a sports hall, and an auditorium seating 400. All pupils live within three miles and cycling is promoted through additional cycle parking. Such excellent facilities persuaded more than half 2003's GCSE students to stay on, compared with 30% in previous years. The project owes its success to the original architectural concept of 'The Street'1355h as both circulation and social space, and to the fortnightly design team meetings, informed by the Head Teacher's lifetime's experience of capital education projects.