Dezeen Magazine

Pond Meadows Special Needs School by DSDHA

Pond Meadows, a special needs school designed by London architects DSDHA, has opened in Guildford, England.


The school caters for children and young adults, aged 2 - 19, with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties.


The RIBA Award-winning project includes a hydro-therapy pool, sensory reading area and art studios.


Classrooms are placed around the perimeter of the building so that each one has its own particular view and space, and to maximise the use of natural light.


Windows of differing heights cater for the various ages and needs of the pupils.


The school makes up part of a new educational campus along with Christ’s College Secondary School (also designed by DSDHA) and the existing Guildford Children’s Centre.


See more Dezeen stories about DSDHA: Tickle Cock Bridge Underpass; Silver Building; Pottersfield Park Pavilions.


Here's further information  from DSDHA:


Royal Opening of DSDHA’s two new Schools in Guildford by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

DSDHA are delighted to announce the formal opening today of Christ’s College Secondary School and Pond Meadow Special Needs School in Guildford by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke was welcomed by pupils, staff and invited guests and given a tour of both Schools. To commemorate his visit, the Theatre within Christ’s College was officially named “The Duke of Edinburgh Theatre”, whilst in Pond Meadow School, the naming of “Prince Philip’s Courtyard” took place.

Both Christ’s College Secondary School and Pond Meadow Special Needs School have been designed to create a new educational campus, along with the existing Guildford Children’s Centre. The project was commissioned by Surrey County Council and the Diocese of Guildford and led by architects DSDHA with the Design and Build Contractor, Wates Construction Ltd.

Pond Meadow School is one of seven projects in the South East region to be awarded one of this year’s RIBA Awards.

Pond Meadow Special Needs School

Adjacent to Christ’s College and the public green space on Hazel Avenue, Pond Meadow is a Special Needs School catering for children and young adults, aged 2 – 19, with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The previous Pond Meadow School site lacked any civic presence, hemmed in by neighbouring residential developments, and the school consisted of a number of adjoining and detached single-storey buildings and pre-fab classrooms set around tarmac play areas. The building stock was unsuitable for the specialist needs and equipment necessary in this type of school._
The new single-storey building is designed around the concept of an evolving journey through the building; every classroom is different with its own particular views and spaces. The overall layout is organised around 3 courtyards marking the three zones of the Lower School, Upper School and shared Community areas. Classrooms are located around the perimeter, maximising natural light and ventilation and allowing direct access to secure and sheltered outdoor play areas.

The differing eye levels and differing degrees of special needs of the pupils of all ages have inspired the different levels of the windows. Bespoke artwork manifestations, developed in collaboration with the artist Martin Richman, have been incorporated into the scheme animating the building with colour, whilst reducing the opportunity for pupil distraction within the classrooms.

The roof form undulates long the length of the building reflecting the diverse accommodation below, which includes a hydro-therapy pool, sensory reading area, art studios and specialist ICT provision. These allow the children to appreciate their individual journeys with views of sky and landscape beyond.

The new building provides an inspirational new learning environment, for pupils, staff and the wider community.

Design Team:

Client: Surrey County Council
Architect: DSDHA

Primary Consultants
Structural Engineer: Adams Kara Taylor
Services Engineer: Atelier Ten Ltd
Project Manager: Davis Langdon
Cost Manager: Davis Langdon
Collaborative Artist: Martin Richman
Main Contractor: Wates Construction Ltd
Landscape Consultants: Townshend Landscape Architects

Secondary Consultants
FF&E Consultant: Building Design Partnership
Planning Consultant: Alliance Environment & Planning
Acoustic Consultant: Sandy Brown Associates
Fire Consultant: Fire Design Solutions Ltd