The design by architect Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) won the 2015 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architectural accolade, as well as awards from the Civic Trust, Concrete Society, Wandsworth Council, RIBA London Region and New London Architecture.
AHMM was engaged under NEC by the London Borough of Wandsworth and its partner Lendlease, which had formed a local education partnership under the former New Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.
The £50 million, five-year project involved transforming a large girl’s urban secondary school into an engaging and sustainable educational environment for 2000 pupils and 200 staff. The six striking new buildings within the re-designed campus boast faceted concrete exteriors, colourful geometric-tile detailing and spacious classrooms filled with natural light.
The RIBA judges said the design, ‘demonstrates the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society. It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering. It is a genuine collaborative project. There was a wonderful working relationship between the head teacher and the architect: a true partnership of equals.’
The new buildings include four four-storey teaching pavilions, a new sports hall and a new performing arts building. They are placed among a number of retained buildings to form a complete and coherent campus with lawns, squares and a central pedestrian spine.
Within each pavilion, classrooms and ancillary accommodation are arranged along a central corridor with voids and double-height spaces at each end to increase natural daylight and make connections to the exterior. The regularity of each plan is followed through to the elevation with faceted precast concrete panels that correspond to a 7.5 m structural and classroom module.
Dan Labbad, chief executive officer of international operations at Lendlease, said, ‘We are delighted RIBA has recognised Burntwood School’s progressive design, which ultimately achieves its key purpose of providing a wonderful learning environment for students. It has been a pleasure working with AHMM to deliver this cutting-edge project.’
AHMM director Paul Monaghan said, ‘Schools can and should be more than just practical, functional buildings – they need to elevate the aspirations of children, teachers and the wider community. The collaborative design environment fostered between the Council, Lendlease and AHMM by NEC contributed to the good design. It will make a difference to the way students value themselves and their education, and we hope that Burntwood winning the Stirling Prize shows that this is worth investing in.
‘The NEC obligation to work in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation encouraged a collaborative approach throughout the design process. In addition, NEC’s cost, programme and risk management processes helped to ensure the cost-effective delivery of a high quality, sustainable design on time and within budget. The contract’s early warning and compensation event processes meant that all potential design issues were quickly identified and resolved as the work progressed.’
Benefits of Using NEC3
- The NEC obligation to work in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation encouraged a collaborative approach throughout the design process between the employer, the architect and the design and build contractor.
- NEC cost, programme and risk management processes helped to ensure the cost-effective delivery of a high quality, sustainable design on time and within budget.
- The NEC early warning and compensation event processes meant that all potential design issues were quickly identified and resolved as the work progressed.