July 20, 2024

Four-year improvement works elevate Brentwood high school

A comprehensive four-year initiative aimed at enhancing pupil accessibility and retention has concluded in Essex, resulting in the upgrade of facilities to meet contemporary educational standards.

The renovation of Brentwood County High School, carried out by two prominent names in the construction industry, has led to the addition of two new specialist teaching blocks, an upgraded sports hall, enhanced landscaping, and a versatile games area, significantly improving the learning and teaching environment for students.

The project unfolded in stages within an active working environment, which included the meticulous restoration of the school’s magnificent main building, a heritage asset reflecting its original 1930s architecture. Additionally, demolition of old teaching facilities occurred to clear space for new buildings dedicated to art, design technology, science, and general instruction.

Multi-disciplinary consultancy Pick Everard is behind the programme, operating via formal appointment to deliver architectural services, with contractor Bowmer + Kirkland appointed through the DfE Construction Framework.

Lizzy Bennett, director at Pick Everard, said: “This was a huge scope of work which ties into key objectives for the educational sector. The school had a clear vision to bring its services in line with modern standards and create something industry-leading to attract and retain students in the area.

“It was a project that also had defined challenges, which our teams catered for in the initial planning and design stages. Given its long-term nature, we knew there had to be minimal interference to the teaching and the student experience. This meant splitting the required accommodation between two individual buildings, while the refurbishment of the sports hall took place early on in the project to ensure exams could continue without disruption.

“Heritage was also a key consideration for the building design, with our teams developing a bespoke and sympathetic heritage colour palette in line with the school’s identity, which was then carried through all facilities across the school, creating cohesion across the campus.

“We’re proud to have helped deliver this remarkable school alongside Bowmer + Kirkland, creating a standard of excellence in design for the region.”

The new facilities at Brentwood include photovoltaic (PV) solutions as well as a ‘fabric-first’ approach to the school’s thermal design, delivering improvements to the building envelope.

The work also forms part of Bowmer + Kirkland’s ‘configure system’ – a standardised construction approach for schools that meets the requirements of the Department for Education (DfE) and school planning systems for educational design. The system is then tailored according to the needs of each school.

Under this regulatory approach, extra high glazing on staircases was ‘back designed’ into the project, in line with standards that evolved during the construction programme.

The project also had to navigate circumstances brought about by the COVID pandemic, with team and client engagement taking place online for RIBA Stages 1, 2 and 3.