Scott Brownrigg achieves planning permission for the UK's potential first BREEAM Outstanding high school


Scott Brownrigg has gained planning permission, on behalf of Bridgend County Borough Council’s Children’s Directorate, for a new secondary school and community campus.  The ‘Gateway to the Valleys’ scheme is being jointly funded by the Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.  The project, with a total cost of £39 million, represents one of the largest single investments in a shared community and education building in Wales. It is being procured through the new South East Wales Schools’ Capital group (SEWSCAP) Contractor Framework for schools and public buildings.  The project is being put forward as an exemplar project for Constructing Excellence in Wales (CEW).

The new community campus, on an existing 39 acre site, will incorporate a 1,570 place comprehensive school for pupils aged 11 to 18 from the Garw and Ogmore Valleys and Valleys Gateway area and a 600 sq m dedicated community facility. This facility will include a café, a multi-agency hub, child care unit and provide for various other community activities. 

The context and history of the site, as a former coal mine, has informed the design concept.   The school is conceived as a series of “colleges” grouped around a community “heart space” - the geometries are derived from existing axes and from specific references to elements found within the existing context. The composition of the forms are conceived in black brickwork, render and trespa panels, again in response to local vernacular materials. The Learning Resource Centre acts as the entrance signal - a “floating drum” and hinge which ties the angular geometries together.

The colleges support the schools-within-a-school concept and can operate almost as individual schools.  This also allows the school to close and open sections of the building, allowing for community engagement throughout the day and for control of the building out of school hours.

Corridors will be replaced with large open spaces, with both the client and school embracing an educational transformation philosophy.  Movable partitions throughout the school will create flexible spaces and transform the way in which pupils are educated. Bridge structures will pass through the Learning Resource Centre at the second floor and also link the central atrium space to the Design Technology College to the north of the site.  Second floor roof terraces, including one designated as the sculpture garden for the art department, interact with the public realm to the west of the site.  

A passive supervision strategy will reduce the need for CCTV and help generate a positive culture within the school, eradicating bullying opportunities.

The campus will also provide quality sports facilities for use by both the school and the wider community.  One of two artificial pitches will be a 3G pitch and the only full size pitch in the county.

A quality external learning landscape will include an amphitheatre, covered canopies, swales and a trim trail, whilst a public plaza will link the school, community facilities and the existing Ynysawdre pool together. 

The scheme, which aims to be the first BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ High School of its type in the UK is to be delivered by September 2013 in a single construction phase - a design and delivery process which has saved a year on the original programme and facilitates an early occupation and demolition of the existing premises. 

The planning authority comment:

“The proposed scheme offers a high quality Community School with a contemporary appearance that will provide a positive addition to the existing context”.