London studio Nicholas Hare Architects used a palette of yellow brick, bronzed aluminium and unfinished timber to construct this secondary school in Essex, England (+ slideshow).
Located in the small community of Canvey Island, the Cornelius Vermuyden School comprises a collection of new and refurbished buildings that were designed to be respectful of their surrounding residential context.
"The palette of materials reflects not only the pragmatic requirements of the school for a robust, easily maintained building that will age gracefully, but also for a building that has a grown-up feel and is appropriate to its Canvey context," said Nicholas Hare Architects' partner Paul Baxter. "We specifically avoided using primary colours that would have been inappropriate."
The building is split into five wings, including an existing gym and hall block that the architects have converted into an art and design facility with double-height workshops.
The main entrance to the school is sandwiched between two wings, including a library and computer room with bronze-anodised aluminium walls and a glazed facade that reveals its interior to visitors.
Perforated aluminium panels also cover the walls of some of the brick buildings. "The perforated anodised panels have allowed us to incorporate artwork and signage in the cladding in a subtle and distinctive way," explained Baxter.
Beyond the entrance, a two-storey indoor street spans the length of the school to connect each of the departments and provide dining areas, meeting areas and exhibition spaces.
"The central street is designed as a two-storey art gallery for the display of the exceptional two and three-dimensional artwork of the students," Baxter told Dezeen. "It is also anticipated that the gallery could be used on occasion as a public gallery showing external exhibitions, thereby drawing the local community into the school and providing a much needed cultural asset for the island."
The sports hall is also located beside the entrance and sits half a metre higher than the other buildings of the school. "Canvey Island has a history of catastrophic flooding, and despite its sea wall the brief required the sports hall to be able to act as refuge in case of flooding across the island," added Baxter.
The school was completed earlier this year, a few months before the UK government released guidelines banning glass walls and restricting room sizes and building shapes. Baxter told Dezeen that these guidelines shouldn't prevent architects from creating schools like Cornelius Vermuyden.
"It is right that the complex, lengthy and expensive procurement process should, in the current economic climate, be considerably slimmed down. It is important, however, that the lessons about school design that architects have learned over the last few years should not be wasted. [...] A modest amount of generosity in the allocation of space can provide a multitude of educational and behavioural benefits," he said.
Other UK schools we've featured include the Stirling Prize-winning Evelyn Grace Academy by Zaha Hadid and a school with a shiny copper chapel, also by Nicholas Hare Architects.
Photography is by Jim Stephenson.
Here's some more information from Nicholas Hare Architects:
Cornelius Vermuyden School and Arts College by Nicholas Hare Architects LLP
Dinant Avenue, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 9QS
Cornelius Vermuyden School was designed by Nicholas Hare Architects as a sample school in Skanska’s winning bid for the Essex’s Building Schools for the Future programme. The school was completed in three phases and was officially opened in July 2012. In addition to providing learning facilities that are second-to-none, it is intended that the new school should be a catalyst for a wider regeneration of Canvey Island as a whole.
Above: ground floor plan - click above for larger image
With a school roll of 900 11-16 year olds the school is predominantly new-build, but includes a retained gym and hall block that were reinvented as a centre for design technology and art.
Above: first floor plan - click above for larger image
Located at the end of a cul-de-sac, the two-storey school needed to announce its presence as a place for learning and a vibrant community facility. The welcoming form of its approach, framed by the fully-glazed library on one side and the sports hall on the other, embraces a richly landscaped plaza and a central internal ‘street’ with a first floor gallery links the teaching clusters, hall, library and other parts of the school.
Above: section A-A - click above for larger image
The street widens and narrows along its length to create ‘eddy’ spaces off the main circulation for entrance, dining, meeting and group work and light penetrates the space from courtyards to the east and west.
Above: section B-B - click above for larger image
A restrained yet robust palette of materials has been used, including a yellow stock brick, bronze-anodized aluminium and untreated timber. The aluminium cladding to the sports hall was perforated to create a subtle super-graphic and further artwork was integrated into the landscape.
Above: south elevation - click above for larger image
Start On Site Date: 10.05.2010
Date Of Completion: 17.02.2012
Gross Internal Floor Area (M2): 8061 sq m
Total Cost: £17.5m
Above: east elevation - click above for larger image
Structural Engineer: Arup
Services Engineer: Hbs/Cpw
Quantity Surveyor: Skanska
Planning Supervisor: Collins Coward
Main Contractor: Skanska
Above: north elevation - click above for larger image
Landscape: Grant Associates
Education Consultant: Key Education
Furniture Supplier: Isis Concepts
Approved Inspector Services: Hcd Group
Joinery Subcontractor: Houston Cox
Steel Frame Subcontractor: Bourne Construction Engineering
Curtain Walling & Windows: Colorminium
Cladding: Downer Façade Solutions
Above: west elevation - click above for larger image