Topping Out Ceremony held for BREEAM Outstanding school in Bridgend County Borough


The topping out ceremony for the Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen comprehensive school in Bridgend County Borough has recently been held.  Scott Brownrigg, together with Bridgend County Borough Council are delighted that the scheme has reached this significant milestone.

Head of Strategy, Partnerships and Commissioning, at Bridgend County Borough Council, Trevor Guy stated:

 “ We are extremely pleased with the finished design of the school and community facilities, however, it is not just about the building, but also about what the outcomes will be for the young people and families in the community.  Scott Brownrigg and the team quickly demonstrated an understanding of what we were trying to achieve, its importance in terms of our school modernisation programme and the impact it will have not just on the area in which it is located, but the county borough of Bridgend as a whole.

Consultation at the design stage with stakeholders and the wider community has been exceptional, whilst the ability of the team to work collaboratively enabled us achieve our start on site date, ensuring we will open the doors to our students and the community in September 2013”

Andrew Warren, Headteacher at Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen comments:

“Scott Brownrigg’s design is truly stunning. The team have a real and deep understanding of how space can be used to support educational innovation and transformation. Much more than this though, from my point of view, has been the truly exceptional level of engagement that Scott Brownrigg has had with the whole of the school and wider community.  It has been the enthusiasm and genuine excitement of the Scott Brownrigg team, for this project, that has been instrumental in making this project a total success from the school’s point of view.  Without this level of real engagement, real partnership, and real energy, we would not be where we are now - poised to occupy the most iconic and world class building that will support all of the many curricular, pedagogical and relationship transformations that we wish to introduce, that we would simply be unable to deliver without the fabulous design that we have been a part in producing.  There is no doubt that we will shortly have the best school building in Wales, and quite probably the UK.” 

Jointly funded by Bridgend County Borough Council and the Welsh Government as part of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools initiative, the £34m Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen build represents one of the largest single investments in a shared community and education building in Wales.  Procured through the new South East Wales Schools’ Capital group (SEWSCAP) Contractor Framework for schools and public buildings, it provides an exemplar project for Constructing Excellence in Wales (CEW).

With a passive design strategy and the incorporation of a number of sustainable technologies, the school achieved a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating at design stage earlier this year; with an impressive score of 89.2%, one of the highest to have been given this year; the school is also being used as an exemplar project for the Low Carbon Research Institute.

As well as accommodating the 1,570 pupil school, the 30 acre site incorporates a 600 sq m dedicated community facility which houses a café, a multi-agency hub, child care unit and 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.

Large open spaces take the place of corridors, 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 students learn. 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 borough.

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