Design of New Art and Science Wing for St. Pancras School, Lewes, East Sussex
'Creating Sustainable Design', 1st December 2005 organised by AJ No.4 Hamilton Place London W1; 'Building Schools for the Future', 6th December 2005 organised by DfES QEII Hall Westminster; 'Sustainable Design 2006', 5th December 2006 organised by AJ Earls Court Exhibition Centre London SW5; 'Ecobuild Building a Sustainable Future', 22+23rd February 2006 Earls Court Exhibition Centre London SW5.
The Department of Children, Schools and Families (formerly DfES) will be publishing an interactive DVD describing the design and construction process.
p.144-145 ‘The Bridge Community Centre Hastings’ featured in Sustainable Architecture Edited by David Turrent Published by RIBA Publishing 2007 ISBN 978 -1-85946-257-7.
I was asked by one of the governors of St. Pancras School in Lewes to prepare a presentation describing our approach to designing school buildings. He knew that I had experience in designing and delivering low energy low impact buildings with small ‘ecological footprints’. Following my presentation my practice was short-listed (together with three other practices) to design a new Arts & Science Wing. The clients brief was extremely interesting to me as it asked for the Design Team to work with the primary school pupils, not necessarily to allow them to design the scheme, but to let them be involved in the design and construction process. The clients were also extremely keen for the building to be as environmentally benign as possible. I agreed to allow pupils to record the design and construction process. My practice got the commission. We were appointed using the RIBA’s Standard Form of Appointment (SFA/99) in December 2003. In the following Spring Term we commenced the design process by spending two days in the school presenting 3D design workshops to every class. My idea was that pupils, staff and governors would focus on issues relating to designing environmentally benign buildings. This allowed them to be well-informed critics when we presented our design ideas.
My practice has focussed on delivering low energy low impact buildings that do not rely on an excessive amount of technology to function. We have focussed particularly over the last five years or so on using locally sourced, replenishable materials. This project allowed me to specify the first ever glue-laminated structure made from locally-sourced sweet chestnut timber from coppiced woodlands within ten miles of the site. Pupils from the school responsible for documenting the design and construction process were awarded £15k from the DfES to enable this. It also allowed them to learn from a local professional film-maker.
Pupils interviewed everybody concerned with the project. They visited the coppiced woodlands supplying timber, the steelworks and many other suppliers. I have also been interested in emerging collaborative working methods. Working on this project has allowed me to fine tune collaborative working methods with a large client group. It also lead to my practice being commissioned by The Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, as well as The Arts Council England and Creative Partnerships, to facilitate and co-present (often with artists) a series of creative workshops with primary and secondary schools in SE England. We have completed about 35 workshops in schools to date.
From June 2007 until Summer 2008 my practice in touring an exhibition called Built Ecologies, considering an emerging contemporary vernacular architectural language borne out of my interest in the use of locally-sourced construction material. The exhibition opened in Lewes East Sussex for one month. This was followed by a month (October 2007) at the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Art and Architecture. On October 19th my partner and I gave a lecture on this subject area. Future venues for the exhibition include the Weald and Downland Museum in West Sussex. SEEDA’s HQ in Guildford and the RIBA in Portland Place London.
£15,000 funding from DfES Innovation Department allowed school pupils to buy filming and editing equipment, as well as the school time to employ a professional film-maker to help the pupils. My exhibition Built Ecologies attracted over £30,000 of sponsorship from a diverse selection of sources such as The Arts Council England, The National Lottery, English Partnerships, SEEDA and The University of Brighton.
We expect to publish a book next year based on the issues discussed within the exhibition. We are also in discussion with various organisations, including the RIBA, about extending the theme of Built Ecologies to include the work of other like-minded architects from the UK and beyond.