Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Water Hall Primary School, Milton Keynes, UK-England

Exemplary design categories: comfort, community use and involvement, green school, safety

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
As well as supporting the core educational function, the design brief for Water Hall Primary School emphasised the need to create a building that could be owned and valued by the wider school community. This has been achieved by closely integrating the internal and external spaces to create a variety of welcoming teaching and learning environments. The school is organised around a large inner courtyard, which provides a protected, safe and therapeutic environment and helps the students focus on learning. The courtyard can be used for teaching in good weather. The main circulation route surrounds this central courtyard. Large sliding glazed openings give views across the school. Each room has its own distinctive physical form, providing visual variety and interest. The rooms have high ceilings, and feel spacious and unrestricted. They make good use of natural light and ventilation. High-level clerestories provide cross ventilation between rooms. The use of natural materials such as timber and a calm colour scheme create a sense of wellbeing and help to encourage a positive attitude to learning. The classrooms have been designed to allow a variety of furniture layouts and class organisation. All teaching rooms have electronic whiteboards, and are linked up to an integrated IT system delivered over a wireless network. Each of the nine main primary classrooms has direct access to the outside through a small protected terrace. The school grounds include a habitat area for environmental studies, a play area, courts for ball games and football pitches. A 20kW wind turbine is situated in the grounds, which should provide around a sixth of the school’s energy requirements. The school is piloting a new approach to encourage parents to become more involved in their children’s education. There is also a parents and community room on the site, and an office for social and community workers.

Activity Areas: 9 classrooms, nursery and foundation room, nursery playground, habitat area, main playground, wind turbine, courtyard, school hall, delivery area

Project costs: GBP 5,000,000.00

Source: "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011"

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User perspectives (1)

Users were so involved in the design and build process that the sense of ownership permeates every brick in the building. The children love to learn in an environment that works for all users. Behaviours for learning have improved beyond recognition." (Tony Draper, head teacher, Water Hall Primary School)
Tony Draper, head teacher, Water Hall Primary School

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