King’s C of E is one of eight schools delivered by maber for the Education Funding Agency through the West Midlands Priority Schools Building Programme.
The new building consolidates the school and replaces formerly outdated separate blocks that formed a sprawling campus.
Careful consideration was given to how the external layout could be best organised. The school site is confined and the ability to offer soft play space for external learning and flexibility of the school in the future were important factors in the design.
The smart landscaped plaza helps to provide a focus towards the main entrance – improving the sense of arrival and forms a vital gathering and socialising point for pupils at the beginning and end of the school day.
The solution was to create a three storey superblock in a style consistent with the EFA baseline design. We tweaked the relationship with the sports hall by connecting it to the front end of the superblock to form an exciting entrance plaza at the ‘knuckle’ with the main entrance – this maximised the external play space to the north and created an opportunity for a new bus turning space to the east. By maximising the external space the school now has greater flexibility for expansion in the future whilst ensuring external spaces do not feel closed or dark.
A simple palette of materials reinforce the volumetric expression of the building’s functions and ties it into its context: The lower more accessible elevations, by being built from dark charcoal facing brickwork, provide a damage-resistant buffer to the external circulation and social spaces. The rendered upper walls feature coloured rendered panels that link ground and first floor windows and assist in breaking-down the facade into a pleasing rhythm of vertical elements, providing a modulated focus on the window openings.
Once inside the school, visitors are presented with a stunning first impression; a generous triple height atrium that focuses on a multi-functional dining area on the ground floor. This creates a spacious, flexible front-end to the school providing the opportunity to host community events or exhibit students’ work.
The King’s C of E is the largest school in the UK built using SIPS. The modular off-site construction allowed a fast construction programme with the three storey internal floor area built in just 11 weeks.