Broadway School / Cottrell & Vermeulen

© Anthony Coleman

Architects: Cottrell & Vermeulen
Location: Broadway School, Broadway, Perry Bar, , England
Project Team: Richard Cottrell (Project Director), Brian Vermeulen, Simon Tucker, Sang Soo Bae (Project Architect), Melissa Liando, Paul Taylor, Yuki Koe, Francesca Pont, Tristan Wigfall, Louise Armour, Catherine Skelcher, Nicola Antaki, Rosie Jones, Rufus Willis, Simon Murray, Erin Byrne, Lefkos Kyriacou, Piuey Wong
Structural, Services & Acoustic Engineers: Arup
Graphic Design & Wayfinding: BCMH
Landscape Design: Fira
Community Artists: Cantoo
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Anthony Coleman

© Anthony Coleman

Broadway School is an existing 7-form entry comprehensive secondary school and sixth form centre, specialising in modern foreign languages. The school is split over two sites: the main Perry Barr campus which is located on The Broadway, with the Aston Annexe housing the lower school located half a mile away in Whitehead Road. The aim of this project was to consolidate the school onto one site on the Broadway to create an Exemplar School to serve the Birchfield Community. The Brodadway site was characterised by a mix of one, two and three storeys of concrete frame construction, the 1970s buildings were clad in red and yellow bricks with large areas of glazing and flat roofing. The more recent three storey building was clad in a different yellow brick and had a shallow pitched roof.

© Anthony Coleman

Perry Barr is an ethnically diverse area comprised mainly of first or second generation Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Kashmiris, Indians and Afro-Caribbeans. Broadway School’s pupil intake is a reflection of this and as such the school has a set specific needs and requirements that need to be met.

Broadway School is not a faith school, but supports the ethnic and religious diversity of its pupils and community. The key faiths practiced in the area are Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Diversity is celebrated in a number of ways within the school, for example through the school assembly programme, at events celebrating festivals, through curriculum focus such as Black History Month, and by setting aside space for prayer and reflection.

© Anthony Coleman

The inclusive ethos is central to the school’s identity and wider community use is welcomed. This agenda has provided a key driver for the design’s development, and the proposed new facilities are aimed at encouraging the community to increase their skills within the area by promoting and facilitating increased engagement with the school.

© Anthony Coleman

The Brief was developed in line with the area guidance provided in Building Bulletin 98 (BB98) and with the requirements of Birmingham City Council and Broadway School, in consultation with Edunova, Educational consultant for Lend Lease In addition to upgrading the existing building the refurbished campus was remodelled to accommodate 400 additional students relocated from the Aston Annexe. The existing buildings were upgraded to provide modern curriculum teaching spaces in line with guidance in Building Bulletin 98 (BB98) and to meet the latest access requirements. The remodelled school now more truly reflects the ethos of the school and has the facilities and spaces to deliver a more effective and engaging learning environment. The brief was also to include for new accommodation for a community Police Station, Birmingham Youth Service and to provide extensive community facilities.

© Anthony Coleman

The refurbishment is the first school to be completed by Lendlease for the Birmingham Building Schools for the Future programme. The particular challenge at Broadway School was to create a sustainable and stimulating learning environment within the context of an existing school. It was unique opportunity to provide both continuity and transformation – a truly sustainable model.

© Anthony Coleman

The scope of works involved the extensive remodelling and refurbishment of the existing 1970s interior and the inclusion of key new build elements in order to upgrade the school to meet the demands of modern teaching methods, accessibility and performance. The entire school has been re serviced and has reached a score of BREEAM ‘Very Good’.

© Anthony Coleman

The aim of the design was to reconnect the existing school buildings and reuse them to create flexible new learning spaces. This was achieved by the addition of a new central covered space (the knowledge Exchange) and entrance which is the fulcrum of the proposal and links the east and west sides of the school complex.. This space links all the existing and new proposals and created a bridge between the street and the landscape of the school.

© Anthony Coleman

The existing north-east block has been retained with walls fully reconfigured internally to form new teaching clusters. The south-east block has been partly reconfigured and partly demolished. New build additions to the east and south provide Technical teaching clusters.

To the west side the existing layout of the assembly, dining and sports hall spaces together with music, drama, activity studio, kitchen and plant room spaces has been largely retained, with the exteriors refurbished.

© Anthony Coleman

The arrangement of teaching spaces is generated directly by the Educational Vision. Generic teaching spaces are arranged in a series of clusters, which also provide pedagogic class bases for registration. Each Generic cluster links directly via shared zones to Science teaching clusters that are equipped and arranged for science or technology. Both Generic and Science clusters are linked to a Central Resources area, which forms the core of the school and also to Specialist areas such as the Learning Resources Centre.

context plan

A new community building on the Broadway Street facade alongside a newly pedestrianised zone creates a community entrance to the School. New external cladding and landscaping tie together the existing and new buildings and improve the appearance of the whole site.

ground floor plan

Participatory Design and Community Consultation played an important part of the design of the school. Through workshops with the school and its pupils, patterns, graphics, colour schemes and landscape ideas have been generated and included into the finished building.

long section

The transformation at Broadway has shown how sensible re-use and radical adaptation can bring back to relevance a building estate that was thought to have outlived its useful life. This could not have been achieved without the support and lead of Birmingham LEP, Lendlease and the staff and pupils of Broadway school.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Broadway School / Cottrell & Vermeulen" 26 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Sep 2014. <>


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    It’s so bizarre the contrast between the freedom of this architecture (seen in colors and materials) vs the rigor of student’s uniform.

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