Project of the Year: Monkseaton High School

THE vision of headteacher Dr Paul Kelly for a school at the leading edge of knowledge about health and learning set interesting challenges for the project team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Sponsor: Forum for the Built Environment
Value sponsor: National Construction Academy
Winner: Parsons Brinckerhoff with Shepherd Construction, Devereux Architects, Turner & Townsend and Hall & Partners.
Project: Monkseaton High School, Whitley Bay.
Client: North Tyneside Council.

THE vision of headteacher Dr Paul Kelly for a school at the leading edge of knowledge about health and learning set interesting challenges for the project team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Not every design project has to accommodate theories about Circadian rhythms – the idea that behaviour is influenced by our daily bio-rhythms and that adolescents have a specific internal ‘clock’ affecting their academic performance.

That was but one of the innovations required in delivering a distinctive, innovative building within a budget that was £15million less than the original estimated cost.

Working closely with North Tyneside Council, Dr Kelly, and the students, the Parsons Brinckerhoff team set about delivering the vision over the 69-week build programme.

An impressive level of innovation was incorporated throughout and the end result has matched the client’s vision, particularly satisfying for the team given the challenges faced during the construction process and the budgetary constraints.

The project’s unique features include a single, all-encompassing curved, domed roof to cover the school’s oval plan which also incorporates a windcatcher to reduce reliance on air conditioning, and four broad roof lights to maximise natural ventilation and daylight.

The sports hall is ceiling-free, located in the centre of the school, and facilitates trials of ‘spaced learning’ during exam revision when 20-minute bursts of revision are interspersed with 10-minute physical breaks.

The sports hall is overlooked by open plan teaching spaces and classrooms, many of which are triangular to enable the teacher to be the focus of the students wherever they are in the room.

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