Plymouth School of Creative Arts
“This is a complex and challenging project made to look rather effortless in practice. Quality and consistency of architectural thinking is evident throughout, and the building delivers an impressive and significant addition to the cityscape. This is an intelligent design and the architects’ success in delivering a great project on an extraordinarily constrained budget and programme is recognised and applauded by the jury.”
RIBA South West Award 2016 Judges comments
At Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Matt was project architect for this new-build, arts-focussed free school, catering for ages from infant through to sixth-form.
A driving principle of the school was learning through cross-pollination between subjects, for example science and art may teach different sides of a topic and a related project may span both classes. The layout was intended to encourage and contribute to this intermingling and revolved around atria and open spaces shared by different departments. Flexible open-plan teaching spaces were the norm, with enclosed areas as necessary for acoustic or ventilation.
The site was a constrained brownfield site in the Millbay area of Plymouth, formally used as workshops and a petrol station. The building was contained on the south-side of the site, freeing up precious site area for playground space. It was a prominent location (being the first major building you come to after leaving the cross-channel ferries) and the building was intended to be a marker, a gateway to the city and to the arts.
Budget constraints meant that simple robust materials were needed, and an early decision was made to focus the budget where it had the most impact. The exterior is clad in a bold red industrial steel with dark grey cutaways. Internally acoustic absorbing material is fixed directly to the steel deck soffits with exposed services running throughout.
The atria bring daylight deep into the condensed plan, with an intelligent building management system (BMS) moderating the ventilation to the conditions. Despite a low budget an early decision was made to lower u-values and a better building performance than required by the current building regulations. A 250 square metre photovoltaic array on the roof helps reduce the schools predicted carbon emission by 17%.
The building was nominated for and won a number of awards. It won an RIBA South West Award, and was shortlisted for the Architects Journal AJ100 Building of the Year, the Building Magazine Project of the Year, and in the World Architecture Festival Awards.
It was procured under the governments Free Schools programme on a Design and Build contract with Kier Construction, sponsored by the Plymouth College of Art.
Design copyright Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.