Posts Tagged ‘Schools’

Newcastle Sixth Form College building tour


Newcastle Sixth Form College moves into the only purpose-built sixth form college in the city this month, providing a world-class learning environment for its students. Below is the college’s 3D building tour – it was designed by RMJM.

The 11,000m2 inspirational building will provide 16 to 18 year olds across the region with specialised facilities in classrooms, performance studios and laboratories. Each room has been fitted to the highest standards and is well equipped to allow the delivery of high quality teaching that will stimulate student learning. Each floor will also have open access IT areas to allow for private study.

In the college’s fine arts studio, Hunter Douglas met the challenge of the sloping ceiling details in the design with bespoke systems that also conceal services and provide acoustic control, as well as offering aesthetic value and long-term solution.

acoustic sloping ceiling

Hunter Douglas on


Acoustics in schools – the impact of BB93

LizMarie on Flickr

LizMarie on Flickr

Building Bulletin 93 is concerned with the acoustic design of schools.

It aims to:
• provide a regulatory framework for the acoustic design of schools in support of the Building Regulations
• give supporting advice and recommendations for planning and design of schools
• provide a comprehensive guide for architects, acousticians, building control officers, building services engineers, clients, and others involved in the design of new school buildings.

It applies to all new school buildings built since 2003 in England and Wales.

You can download it here.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has recently produced a report, based on Freedom of Information requests to 70 local authorities, looking at whether new schools are complying with the regulations.

• Too many local authorities are not bothering to test buildings to ensure compliance.
• Where acoustic testing is carried out, over half of local authorities have schools that failed.
• Overall, only 21% of local authorities could tell us with certainty that new schools in their area met government standards and are fit for their intended use. Only 11% met the standard without resorting to ‘alternative performance standards’.

School Noise Control provides a good introduction to the subject:
1. Why is the acoustical design of a classroom so important?
2. What does research show about noise, listening, and learning?
3. What is background noise?
4. What is reverberation?

Case studies
1. Acoustic ceiling panels as part of a remedial project in St Olave’s concert hall, York.
2. An underscreed isolation system to minimise the transfer of sound between floors at Priory Community School, Western-super-Mare.
3. Multipurpose insulation with sound dampening properties that reduces the penetration of external (road) noise, as well as the transfer of sound generated within classrooms and corridors. Golden Lane Campus, Islington.
4. Acoustic wall panels at the Cork School of Music.

Launch of the Centre for School Design


The Centre for School Design is a new think tank being set up to help shape future policy and practice in education, design and the built environment. It has at its heart the use of web 2.0 technologies and design techniques and approaches to creative collaboration.

The launch is taking place tonight (January 25th) at the CAN Mezzanine at 1 London Bridge (pdf) from 5pm to 6:30pm. It is publicised on the be2camp network, and also has a Linkedin group.

Related articles
The imagine database: best practice for schools
School interiors
Social media: the benefits for architects and designers

How to design a school

Harmeny School, Edinburgh - Richard Murphy Architects

Harmeny School, Edinburgh - Richard Murphy Architects

Surprisingly enough there’s no magic crib sheet, but the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield can point you in the right direction.

They have compiled Imagine, a database of ‘school design best practice from around the world.’

‘Architects and researchers … have conducted a critical analysis of over 150 schools, highlighting excellence in design according to different themes. It considers integrated ICT, environmental design and flexibility for space and learning.’

The database covers schools of all types:
Educational level – nurseries through to higher education, as well as special needs.
Design type – spine, city, atrium, cluster and courtyard models.
Education model – classroom, studio, office, school within a school, faculty.

A key benefit of the database is it allows architects and designers to analyse / review a cross-section of best practice designs for inspiration or design details. It can also be used as a tool in initial consultation and brief building with client groups.

Imagine is also prepared to highlight the flaws – rather nicely termed ‘heroic failures’ – in some of the designs.

Five projects to look at:
SESC Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: a complete settlement for secondary education with living accommodation for teachers and pupils.

Discovery 1 School, Christchurch, New Zealand: a school that is truly integrated into to its social and physical context, inhabiting the top floor of a department store in Christchurch’s central business district.

Harmeny School, Edinburgh: a special needs school for 8-12 year olds, designed by observing the teaching and behaviour of the children.

Queen Mary University Blizard Building, London: it is rare to find such a playful and expressive learning space in a university building.

Perspectives Charter School, Chicago, United States: an innovative, low-budget school on a tight urban site.