Scott Brownrigg wins OJEU to design school as part of 'Gateway to the Valleys' initiative


Scott Brownrigg has been appointed by Bridgend County Borough Council to design a new secondary school as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s ‘Gateway to the Valleys’ initiative.  Won by Scott Brownrigg from a list of 98 practices that applied through the OJEU process, the project consists of a new community campus on an existing 39 acre site.  It will incorporate a 1,540 place comprehensive school for pupils aged 11 and 18 from the Garw and Ogmore Valleys and their hinterland. 

The final stage of the OJEU process was a competitive interview at which early strategic concepts for an iconic community gateway building were presented.  Scott Brownrigg was praised on the team’s enthusiasm for the project and the clarity and intellectual rigour of the concepts presented.  The council was also impressed by the practice’s extensive track record in designing and delivering schools as well as the experience of the members of the Cardiff based team.

Neil MacOmish, Architectural Director who leads the Scott Brownrigg team in Cardiff, commented “We are, of course, delighted to have been successful in selection - the project is significant in terms of the aspiration of the local authority to deliver a beacon for education and the community within the overall initiative of the Gateway to the Valleys ethos.  It is also significant for our own office here in Cardiff.”

Neil, Michael Olliff (Architectural Director for education projects) and the team presented six different strategies as to how they would achieve the vision, four refurbishment and two new build options.  The refurbishment and extension options focused on the use of the existing building stock in relation to the council’s aspirations for curriculum delivery within the school.  The two new build options referenced the history and context of the area.

One option conceived the school as a linear, geological stratification - an abstraction of the Welsh landscape - which could form both internal and external learning terraces and a central street covered by a floating ETFE “cloud”.  This was developed as a direct response to the specific “place”, through an analysis in part of the local geology - in terms of both mining and the local coastline as sites of particular interest for fossils, investigation and learning - and local communities - typified by the ‘street’.

Federations for both options support the schools-within-a-school concept and can operate almost as individual schools.  This allows the school to close and open sections, allowing for community engagement throughout the day.

The scheme, targeted to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ is to be delivered by September 2014 with an estimated phased construction period spanning three years.