Highly Commended

Woodmansterne Secondary School & Sixth Form

Woodmansterne Secondary School & Sixth Form is a new five form-entry school providing 900 places for pupils aged 11 to 18 years old. The new building forms the second phase of the site redevelopment which previously comprised a two form-entry primary school with an associated nursery and children's centre. In developing the massing for the building, the programme was split into three elements – sports, specialist teaching and general teaching – each of which is identifiable as a distinct block in the L-shaped building. The constraints of the site, including the layout and orientation of the adjacent primary school, informed both the shape of the building and the configuration of spaces within it.

The school was designed with functionality and inclusivity at its centre. With 900 pupils and 140 staff at capacity, and community use of facilities outside school hours, the building has been designed to maximise accessibility for all parties and aims to make the facilities welcoming, easy to access and enjoyable to use. The project team have worked to BIM Level 2 modelling requirements, with a federated model undergoing regular clash detection sessions during design development. The coordinated model proved invaluable throughout the design and construction phases for a range of purposes, from the creation of phasing and sequencing diagrams for the construction process, to virtual-reality walk-throughs with the staff and pupils. 

Sustainability, daylight and ventilation were important considerations in the design development to ensure that users are provided with a bright and well-ventilated working environment. Window heights were specified to maximise daylight penetration into classrooms and openable elements of the windows are opaque rather than glazed, allowing blinds to be lowered to minimise glare without interfering in the glow of natural ventilation. Durability of materials, products and detailing is essential in an education environment to minimise maintenance requirements and maximise life expectancy. The insulated brick-slip panels were selected for their speed of construction but also for their inherent robustness.

Excellent working relationships amongst the team and ongoing engagement with stakeholders were key to the success of this project, which was delivered on time and within budget. The school opened in April 2019 to pupils in Year 7 and 8, previously taught in the primary school and adjacent temporary buildings, providing exemplary facilities for pupils, staff and the wider community.


Judges' comments 

Woodmansterne Secondary School is a well thought out holistic design and scheme which demonstrates Architectural Technology at its highest level. PTAL maintained the functionality of the different spaces and the acoustic comfort was suitably considered. The School has a high-performance building envelope with exceptional functional and robust design and detailing. The lengthened design process to shorten construction worked to an advantage, ensuring admirable layouts and an observed flow of the building.