Between the pupils, family and staff, 38 different languages are spoken and the school has a large SEN requirement, leaning heavily towards Autism and ADHD. Because of this, the school has been developed with neurodiverse inclusive design at its core, ensuring the spaces are suitable for children requiring assistance with speech and communication as well as SEN pupils with complex hidden disabilities and neurodivergent conditions.
The existing school needed to be replaced as it is not fit for purpose and there is no alternative site. There were high levels of noise pollution, unwanted public interaction, a sewer easement and most critically, the entire school and surrounding area are within Flood Zone 3b. The unique way to overcome the constraints and develop the scheme as a new-build was to raise the whole building above the 1 in 100 year flood line and gradient the landscape to make it accessible. The sculpted landscape adds fun spaces for the children to play in while improving staff supervision of external spaces. So the new school, situated within an industrial estate, creates a “woodland haven within the city”.
A woodland haven within the city.
The compact scheme maximises outdoor play space, providing significantly more space than is currently available. It allows teachers to flexibly accommodate outdoor activities in their curriculum. External levels ensure all areas of the site are accessible, while achieving the flood mitigation requirements. Existing trees have been retained where possible and have been supplemented by new tree planting to reinforce the green nature of the site and the School’s desire for a natural setting for learning.
Creating a nurturing space for sensory exploration.
Most critically, the driver for the site masterplan has been creating a nurturing space for sensory exploration. Our driver was to provide ways that all children can explore, participate and communicate in a sensory rich environment, with the calming elements of the natural outdoors – a woodland haven in the city. This is achieved through habitat creation, design of specific learning spaces like vegetable planters and the selection of materials and planting species.
Neurodiverse inclusive design principles include maximising natural elements through a woodland landscape, sensory way-finding through tactile and textural exploration, logical and hierarchical organisation of spaces, designing sensory seeking and sensory avoidant spaces, strategic classroom organisation and colour choices to minimise sensory overload and increase concentration and many other principles recommended by maber’s inclusive design team.
Click Enter Scene on the left to enter a panoramic view of the school and take a 360˚ look at the classrooms or the landscape playgrounds.
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