From the architect. Park View Secondary School in Birmingham has been radically transformed by architects Haworth Tompkins as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, providing a template for low-cost interventions in schools across the country.
The school is situated in inner-city Alum Rock, the 3rd most deprived area of Birmingham with a predominantly Muslim population. Results have improved dramatically in recent years, going from 4% of pupils gaining five or more A-C grades at GCSE in the late 1990s to 72% in 2011.
The site was a collage of buildings dating from the 1960s onwards, most of which were in poor condition and suffered a variety of problems including bad connections, overcrowded corridors and a lack of daylight. Haworth Tompkins were selected to rebuild and rejuvenate the entire school on a budget of £8.5 million, or £1400 per square metre.
Graham Haworth, Director at Haworth Tompkins said:
“Park View School was in many ways typical of schools in the UK and shared many common problems. This project demonstrates that by working with the existing building stock, ‘de-silting’ it, introducing creative additions, and making simple but thoughtful improvements to the whole, a first class learning environment can be created to reflect the academic excellence this school has achieved.”
A new circulation spine connects the many disparate elements and a previously inaccessible courtyard has been transformed by larch-clad covered walkways to create a sheltered, collegiate atmosphere. This new ‘Quad’ is a shared amenity that can be used to meet, pray, study and dine. The choice of timber is multi-layered: It provides an attractive, robust, maintenance free enclosure, and its organic nature contrasts with the tough urbanity of the surrounding buildings. Internally, the narrow corridors have been opened up creating breakout areas, or ‘social learning zones’, around which staff offices are located. These reduce congestion, increase passive supervision and allow daylight into the space, in addition to creating informal learning spaces outside of the classroom.